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Career Paths: Lauren Bennett ’19L

Lauren Bennett is from Greenville, SC and attended the University of South Carolina for her undergraduate degree. She interned in public defender offices during 1L and 2L summers, and this year she served as a student attorney in the Criminal Justice Clinic, representing in district and circuit court indigent clients facing misdemeanor criminal charges.

Where will you be working after graduation and in what practice area?

I will be working as an Assistant Public Defender with the Colorado State Public Defender.

Did you know coming into law school that you wanted to work in criminal defense?

In undergrad, I was a Finance and Marketing double major, but my minor was in Criminal Justice. Criminal Law is an area that has always really interested me, and I had the opportunity to intern with the Richland County Public Defender’s Office in Columbia, South Carolina my senior year of college. That internship is what lit a fire inside of me and made me want to be a Public Defender.

What role did the size and location of the public defender’s office play in the search and decision process?

I was looking for a Public Defender Office that provided the kind of representation that I believe every individual charged with a criminal offense deserves. I wanted to work for an office that I believed would give me the resources to provide this kind of zealous advocacy, and typically bigger offices have more access to those resources. The Colorado State Public Defender has the resources and a state-wide culture that assists their attorneys in providing this kind of advocacy. I also love the outdoors, so this made the Colorado State Public Defender an even more perfect fit for me.

Was there anything in your law school or summer job experience that confirmed this career choice?

I believe my 1L and 2L summer internships at Public Defender Offices really solidified that being a Public Defender is the right career choice for me. I truly enjoyed my summer internships, and I was able to put the things I learned during my semesters in law school into practice to help people who need it.

What classes do you think are helpful to take to prepare for this job?

I think the most helpful classes have been Criminal Procedure – Investigation, Legal Writing, Evidence, and participating in Moot Court and Mock Trial Competitions. Above all, I believe that being a member of the Criminal Justice Clinic has been the best preparation for becoming a Public Defender.

Can you describe your job search process?

My job search process consisted of two avenues. I interviewed with several Public Defender Offices through the Equal Justice Works (EJW) Conference in D.C., and I used connections from previous internships and my home state to directly apply to other offices that I was interested in working for. After a lot of traveling and interviews, I ultimately decided that the Colorado State Public Defenders Office was the right fit for me.

What are you most looking forward to about working at this job?

I am looking forward to using my law degree to make a difference in the lives of my clients.