Alumni Spotlight: Negin Farahmand Wood ’12L Negin Farahmand Wood is Senior Assistant Public Defender at Office of the Public Defender for Fairfax County.
Negin Farahmand Wood ‘12L was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009, where she double majored in Psychology and Spanish. During law school, Negin was SBA president and a Law Ambassador. Negin interned at the Arlington County Public Defender’s Office and spent her third year in the Criminal Justice Clinic. After law school, Negin started a fellowship at the Fairfax County Public Defender’s Officer until she was hired as an Assistant Public Defender. Negin has worked there for the last 10 years and is now a Senior Assistant Public Defender.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a public defender?
I decided I wanted to be a public defender after interning at the Arlington County Public Defender’s Office. I always knew that I wanted to work in public interest, and I was drawn to criminal law and procedure. I didn’t know exactly what my career would look like going into law school, but once I interned at a public defender’s office, I knew that was it. I spent my third year in the Criminal Justice Clinic, and that solidified any doubt I had that I was going to be a public defender.
What sort of legal issues do you handle on a day-to-day basis?
Right now, I mostly handle cases involving adults charged with serious felony charges. My days are all a bit different depending on what is going on. I spend most days in court at least for part of the day. Most days involve a combination of meeting with clients in the jail or in my office and appearing in court. As far as court hearings go, a typical day could include a motion to admit an incarcerated client to bail, handling one or more preliminary hearings for clients charged with felonies, representing clients at a sentencing hearing or probation violation hearing, and occasionally my days are spent in jury trials. When I’m not in court or meeting with clients, I’m doing legal research or working on motions, meeting with prosecutors to try to negotiate cases, or prepping upcoming trials. As a supervisor in the office, I also spend some time helping train and prepare other attorneys for their cases.
What do you like about your current job?
I honestly like a lot of things about my job, which is probably why I’ve stayed here since graduating law school. I like working with clients directly and helping them through one of the worst periods of their lives. I also like being in court, arguing cases, and having trials. Most of all, I like the supportive and collaborative nature of my office. It’s great to have coworkers you can rely on to help you through the difficult cases, to celebrate the wins and to commiserate over the tough losses. Finally, I like that my job is never boring and I’m always learning something new, even after 10 years.
Which W&L classes and/or experiences do you think were most helpful in preparing you for this job?
The classes that helped prepare me for this job include the obvious ones like Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence. That being said, the Third Year Experience by far was the most helpful in preparing me for this job. I was part of the Criminal Justice Clinic (CJC) throughout my third year. The CJC basically functions as a public defender’s office and allowed me to represent clients charged with misdemeanor offenses in Rockbridge County and surrounding counties under the supervision of Professor J.D King. The CJC really prepared me for how to interact with and counsel clients, how to prepare for trial, and for appearing in court. Whenever anyone asks me about my time at W&L, I bring up the CJC because it impacted so much of how I ended up where I am today.
What advice do you have for prospective law students?
My advice for prospective students is to focus on classes and experiences that interest you. If you know you want to work in the public interest field, focus on getting internships, taking classes, and spending your 3L year in those fields. It’s easy to get swept up in what your fellow classmates are doing when it comes to classes or OCIs or extracurriculars, but if you focus on what you want out of your future career, it will take you further in law school and after. I would also say to make as many connections as you can while you’re in law school through professors and the alumni network, as those connections will help you when it comes time to look for internships and jobs after graduation. Finally, if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after law school – that’s OK! Take your time to try to figure it out in the first year or two while you have the support of the law school and alumni community.
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Outside of Work
Does chasing after my 2-year-old count? And getting on my Peloton bike when I can.
Right now, I’m catching up on the new season of More Perfect, but generally I love listening to true crime podcasts.
Favorite Travel Destination