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John Wesley (Class of 2012)

Day Division
Throughout my time at New England Law | Boston, I have tried to dedicate my academic study, clinical work, and extracurricular activities to the area of public interest law whenever possible. I believe that attorneys and law students have an obligation to use their education and acquired skill to advocate for those who are most vulnerable and support projects that promote equal justice and equal opportunity for all people. It is with this guiding philosophy that I enrolled in courses such as Education and the Law, Juvenile Law, Housing Discrimination, Family Law, and Public Health Law. These courses offered a unique perspective on vitally important areas of law and policy and the professors who taught these courses became mentors to me.

In addition to my class work, I have participated in other activities to enrich my public interest legal education. I did research and writing projects for the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy at New England Law, facilitated by Professor Berman. This was a great experience and doing research on projects that would directly influence state legislation was very meaningful. As a result of my work through the center, I earned the school’s Public Service Transcript Notation.

I was also a member of the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, contributing written work as well as editing scholarly articles. For my own articles on the journal, I chose to focus on public interest issues that I believe are particularly compelling. I wrote about the area of Juvenile Law and the landmark Supreme Court case, J.D.B. v. North Carolina, which strengthened juvenile rights under the 5th Amendment. For my other article, I focused on the incarceration epidemic in America and the correlation between overcrowded prisons and the lack of equal access to quality education and literacy programs for many citizens.

During the summer before my 3L year, I was the legal intern at the Youth Advocacy Department (YAD) in Roxbury, MA, assisting public defense attorneys in advocating for indigent juvenile clients in criminal delinquency matters. This organization, part of the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services, provided an inspiring place to work and a mission in which I was deeply invested. The attorneys at YAD were amazing mentors and skilled advocates. YAD embraces a youth development approach, believing that the best legal outcomes for juveniles allow for the best life outcomes. The organization provided access to counseling, local community agencies, and employment opportunities for court-involved youth; this holistic approach was very appealing and I got to witness the results daily.

Certified under the student practice rule in Massachusetts, I was able to directly represent juvenile clients in court. The highlight of this internship was an opportunity for me to write a Motion to Dismiss on behalf of a young client and do the oral argument in juvenile court. The successful outcome of the motion only further strengthened my commitment to public interest work.

I also participated in the Family Law Clinic at my school. This was another excellent experience. Through the clinic, I worked for the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee in Boston, a state agency representing indigent clients with mental disabilities, primarily concerning divorce, custody, and visitation matters. This placement was ideal and I worked with very supportive attorneys and staff. Our faculty advisor for the clinic, Professor Teixeira de Sousa, was a wonderful supporter of our work, providing insightful feedback and material for further learning and discussion. I hope to put all of this valuable public interest law experience to good use during my career.

(March 2012)