During law school, Cassady Adams stayed busy attending networking and lunch events, visiting the Career Development Office, completing internships, and establishing connections which led to her current job. Now a deputy district attorney, Adams is constantly in court and makes many decisions that have a significant impact on the lives of others.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I am a deputy district attorney for Colorado’s 11th Judicial District, which includes Fremont, Custer, Park, and Chaffee counties. I prosecute felony cases on behalf of the state of Colorado. This includes reviewing cases and filing charges, making bond arguments in court, consulting with victims, negotiating plea agreements with opposing counsel, writing and litigating motions (and appellate briefs, when necessary), going to trial, and handling post-conviction hearings. I also work closely with law enforcement to try to ensure that our cases are fully investigated and that our discovery obligations are met.
There really is no “typical” day. I am in court during docket days for nearly a full day at least once a week. When I am in trial, I am in court for multiple days in a row. Other than that, I spend a lot of time in the office preparing my cases and writing motions.
How did you find your job?
I found my job through a posting on Colorado Law’s career website right around graduation time. At the time that I applied for my job, I didn’t think too much about it, and I certainly never thought I would end up where I am. In hindsight, I am so grateful for the opportunity.
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
The Career Development Office was very helpful for me in my job search. They reviewed my résumé and cover letters, as well as recommended jobs that aligned with my interests. They also did mock interviews with me a few times to help me prepare for real interviews.
Colorado Law also helped me develop connections in the Colorado legal community that led to me finding my current job. I did a lot of internships and tried to go to lunch events and networking events at the law school. I ended up meeting a variety of attorneys and building connections just by “showing up.”
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
Being a prosecutor is a very versatile job. First, it is important to have a firm grasp of the law itself and the Constitution, and just about all of the classes I took at CU contributed to that. I also use oral advocacy skills when I am making an argument in court. Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice [and Adjunct Faculty] Nancy Rice’s motions and trial advocacy classes were particularly helpful in that regard.
I use research and writing skills just about every day in some fashion. Participating in the University of Colorado Law Review and working as a research assistant for Professor Helen Norton gave me a solid foundation for research and writing, as did the various internships I did when I was at CU.
Finally, many of the attorneys and professors I met as a student at CU gave me the moral foundation that I now use every day as a prosecutor. In my job, I have to make a lot of decisions that have tremendous impacts on people’s lives. CU gave me the opportunity to meet mentors who formed me as a young law student by giving me the courage to know what it means to “do the right thing.”
Please talk a little about “people skills” and networking specifically. How has your professional network made a difference in your career?
People skills are very important, and they are something that you just kind of develop over time. People skills involve being a good listener, willingness to learn from others, and being assertive as well as kind at the same time.
My professional network has made a big impact on my career. When I was in law school, I really tried to put myself out there and do a variety of different activities and internships. In doing that, I was fortunate to meet many attorneys and professors. They gave me guidance on the variety of practice areas one can participate in as a lawyer, and they also connected me with other lawyers and job opportunities. Networking isn’t about what other people can do for you; it’s about learning from other people and sharing with them. When it comes to networking, I would often ask myself who I wanted to be like when I “grow up,” and then I would find myself gravitating toward lawyers and practitioners who I wanted to emulate in some way.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
I once read a quote that “the future belongs to the people who see the possibilities before they become obvious.” That is very true, especially when it comes to looking for a job. Don’t think of a job as something that you are entitled to, but rather look for where there is a need for good lawyers and where your hard-earned skills can be best used. Also, try to cast a broad net in terms of the jobs you apply for; your first job likely will not be where you spend your entire career. I would also tell current students not to be afraid to reach out for help.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
I would tell them that it is a wonderful school with many opportunities and that it gave me the education, skill set, and heart to be the attorney that I am. I would also tell them that being able to run in the mountains at Chautauqua Park or on the Boulder Creek Path in the morning before class is hard to beat!
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
I chose Colorado Law because it is a great school and because I wanted to live in Colorado. I was also interested in public interest law when I applied to law school, and Colorado Law had a lot of opportunities for that.
To see more Promising Starts: www.colorado.edu/law/careers/career-paths/promising-starts