Kassandra Heine (Class of 2007)
I started law school with no professional experience to speak of. I worried that I would not be able to compete with other students for positions in the legal field in Boston, especially because I was from Indiana and knew no lawyers in the area.
In the spring of my second year, I enrolled in the Lawyering Process and was placed at Greater Boston Legal Services. I had the opportunity to work in the disability unit with a Senior Attorney on a class action lawsuit against the MBTA on behalf of people with disabilities. The lawsuit was in its settlement stages. I was able to learn the process of a class action lawsuit and what is necessary to gather a group of individuals who cannot afford legal representation and fight a corporation with immense resources. I wrote motions for the Federal District Court, researched issues regarding the settlement fees for attorneys, met with members of the class action suit and assisted in the lengthy settlement documents. I also met with non-class members to interview them so that I could write their affidavits. While I was happy to learn the details and increase my research and writing skills what I found most rewarding was the interaction with clients. I never realized how much I could enjoy assisting someone in need or how it was possible for me to do so with a law degree. A year later, I still e-mail some of those clients. After the clinic was over I was offered a summer position at Greater Boston Legal Services in the disability unit.
In my third year of law school I decided I was ready to explore the criminal system and so I enrolled in the criminal procedure clinic. I requested to work with the Suffolk District Attorney's Office in the Dorchester District Court and was placed there. In this clinic, I learned not only by observing the court but also in participating in arraignments, motions and disparate pleas in the courtroom. I also wrote motions, memorandums and learned how the ADAs deal with cases on a regular basis. I was glad to have the opportunity to stand in front of a judge for the first time with the confidence that I understood what I needed to say and do. I was especially pleased with the placement because of the integrity that comes along with working in a Suffolk County Courthouse. Working for the DA's office is not just something I can add to my resume but was also taught me the practicalities of being in a courtroom, which will help me regardless of whether I decide to become an ADA or a criminal defense attorney.
Before enrolling in the clinics I had never considered public interest law. Mostly, I did not understand what it meant to be serving the public with my law degree. Since working with the amazing plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit and feeling as though I accomplished something for victims at the Dorchester District Court, I have learned that public interest law is what will be best for me in my career choices.