During the spring 2017 semester, I interned at the Fredericksburg Commonwealth Attorney’s Office. Over the course of the semester, I worked hands-on with several attorneys helping them to prepare for high-profile cases in the City of Fredericksburg. I used analytical and research skills that I learned over my history career at UMW to write jury instructions, research jurors, draft plea agreements, and more. I was given the opportunity to sit in on attorney meetings, discuss ideas for how to move forward with certain cases, and communicate with witnesses and victims. The skills and experiences I gained from this internship and UMW have guided me into pursuing a career in law.
In fall 2017, I will be attending Elon Law School in Greensboro, North Carolina. Working closely with the attorneys has solidified my desire to pursue criminal prosecution. Criminal prosecution isn’t strictly about “putting the bad guys away”; it is about giving justice to the people that don’t have a voice – the victims who rely on the police officers, sheriffs, and the Commonwealth Attorney to do what is right by the community it defends. On the other side, defense attorneys don’t just “defend the bad guys”; they are integral in providing a face to the crime. Over the course of my internship, I learned two important lessons. The first is that the defendants are people and have a story. They aren’t just case numbers and it is important to remember that. Second, I was speaking with one of the attorneys and he told me what his law school professor told him. “At the end of the day, no one is a winner. The victims carry the crime with them the rest of their lives and have to suffer through the emotional, mental, and sometimes physical harm forever. The defendants don’t win either. They may have to endure prison sentences and their families are effected by the crimes they committed.” There is no winner in the law and I am grateful to have had this experience to see this firsthand.