My time at GJP has been absolutely wonderful – the people, the work, the culture, all of it. I came into this summer interested in criminal defense but unsure, and this experience cemented my desire to become a public defender! And then, once I get a few years of that experience under my belt, hopefully end up at an organization like GJP. I knew this when I was sitting in court on my birthday, next to one of our clients, and I thought “there is nowhere else I would rather be right now.”
My discernment process was helped by the diversity of work we were given. I especially enjoyed the client interaction, such as through the jail interviews, going to MRF, and criminal records work. It was great to break that up with legal research, and I am glad we were matched with a specific supervisor so that we could do a deep dive on their issue. I was further appreciative that we were able to work on a major criminal defense case. Obviously those cases take much longer than ten weeks, but it was great to see a snapshot of what that work consisted. Finally, I was very glad for the intentional trainings and activities that were planned for the interns. I particularly enjoyed shadowing Rachel in court, observing the Drug Court, the book club, and all of Doug’s excursions. As an Atlanta transplant, I enjoyed learning more about the city and food scene through his trips. The highlight of the summer was definitely the trip to EJI and the memorial in Montgomery, including the drive there and back with Doug. I really appreciated that the interns were placed in his car, so we had time to establish a deeper relationship.
One of the greatest things I will take with me is the GJP model. It was fascinating to observe the conversations that happened in the Client Services Meeting, and see how social services, defense, and community all impacted the decision-making process. I am inspired to see how clients, their families, and their needs are put front and center. I am very grateful that I gained exposure to this mindset before pursuing public defense.