When I came to law school, I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to be in the legal profession. During orientation, I attended a presentation on the Colorado Innocence Project, and quickly became passionate about working with that project. Reading letters from people who are in prison helped me to think critically about the criminal justice process from the perspective of a defendant. I realized, both through this work and meeting attorneys in practice, that the most fulfilling way I could spend my legal career as a public defender.
CU has a great public service community, and makes it easy for students to become involved in projects. For me, the Innocence Project was a way to do real, tangible work during my academically taxing 1L year. It helped to motivate me to do my other work in school knowing that I was able to spend some of my free time doing work that made a difference in someone's life.
The Innocence Project is far and away one of the most important things I worked on during my first year. It helped to lead me to my summer internship at the Fort Collins Public Defenders office. My internship was really the culmination of my public service work throughout 1L year. I was able to meet and work with clients who were truly in need. I used the knowledge and skills I had cultivated in school and through my public service projects to work on cases and assist the attorneys in my office to more zealously defend their clients.
The best advice I can give to incoming students is to get involved in a project as soon as you can. The first year of law school is a difficult time for a lot of different reasons. The best thing you can do to help make your experience as law student more fulfilling is to work with one of the public service projects. It is a way to be involved in something you're interested in as well as practice skills that will be invaluable to you as an attorney in the future.