Emily McCarthy ('11)

Criminal Prosecutor

Emily McCarthy (’11) is a criminal prosecutor for the State of Vermont. Her typical day starts by processing paperwork for the people who were arrested overnight and then deciding what criminal charge(s) to bring against them. McCarthy spends the rest of the day in and out of court for motion hearings and status conferences, or in her office reviewing search warrants and writing motions. 

How did Colorado Law prepare you for your new job?

Academically, my evidence and criminal procedure classes prepared me for my job. I negotiate plea deals frequently and quickly. I have to know evidence and criminal procedure off-the-top-of-my-head in order to evaluate the strength of a case on the spot. Practically, the Juvenile Law Clinic prepared me for courtroom practices.

As a law student at Colorado Law, what courses or practical learning experiences (i.e. internships, clinics) best prepared you for what you are doing now? 

The Juvenile Law Clinic undoubtedly best prepared me for my current job. It gave me the practical courtroom and motion writing experience that I use every day. Academically, my evidence and criminal procedure courses best prepared me as a trial attorney.

What skills – legal or otherwise – do you utilize on a daily basis, and how do they make a positive difference in your work? How did you develop these skills?

I work in a small state with an extremely small criminal law bar. There are maybe 30 different defense attorneys that I work with on a regular basis. My interpersonal skills make the greatest difference in resolving cases with these attorneys. As my boss often says, her experience as a waitress best prepared her to be an attorney.

What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?

Work and intern in different offices. I did not think that I wanted to practice criminal law or be a trial attorney, but after interning in my current office, I found out that there’s no more exciting way to practice law than to be a criminal prosecutor.

What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?

Take classes from professors you like or who come well-recommended. I was shocked at how much I liked Tax.