Nikki Brandon Harris (Class of 2004)
I am a native New Yorker (go Yankees!). My plan was to move to Arizona after completing New England School of Law. Prior to entering NESL, I worked at two large corporate law firms as a bankruptcy legal assistant, followed by a two-year stint at the Manhattan District Attorney's office. I worked in the Rackets Bureau as an Investigative Analyst and was later promoted to the Bureau Administrator. My duties included assisting Assistant District Attorneys in all phases of investigation and grand jury proceedings, including communicating with witnesses and police. I enjoyed my work because it was exciting and I learned a lot about criminal investigation.
I continued to work in public interest law during the summer after my first year of law school. I received one of NESL's Public Interest Law Association (PILA) grants to fund my summer internship at Greater Boston Legal Services in the Health and Disability Unit. Unlike my work at the D.A.'s office, I worked directly with the people. I interviewed clients and conducted research on various administrative and medical issues. I enjoyed assisting people on an individual level.
In my second year at NESL, I enrolled in the Lawyering Processing Clinic. I returned to Greater Boston Legal Services, but this time in the Family Unit's Divorce Workgroup. My greatest accomplishment was representing a battered wife in her final divorce hearing. I knew I helped to increase the quality of my client's life because she was able to move forward with her life. I enjoyed the daily interaction with clients, which helped foster strong working relationships. I also benefited from seeing cases in all phases of development.
To work toward my goal of relocating to Arizona after graduating from NESL, I spent the summer after my second year of law school at the Arizona Attorney General's office in the Complex Litigation Unit of Child Support Enforcement Section. I represented the Department of Economic Security at nine contempt and review hearings at the Superior Court of Maricopa County. I also conducted stipulation conferences, interviewed witnesses, drafted pleadings, and performed legal research. This work built on the work that I did at Greater Boston Legal Services. I enjoyed doing the hearings above all else because I got to plead for the reasons the neglected children were entitled to their child support from non-custodial parents.
In my third year of law school, I returned to the Divorce Workgroup because I wanted to continue working with the same clients and learn more about family law from a hands-on experience. I will be able to see cases from their initial intake through their final dispositions. From all my public interest positions, I have enjoyed working with people who generally show their gratitude for my time and efforts. I look forward to continuing in public service upon graduating from NESL.