As the BBA’s ‘What’s it REALLY Like’ lunch series continued last week, new attorneys and current law students were granted the long-awaited opportunity to hear from an expert panel on practicing as a prosecutor or defense attorney. Matthew Segal, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and David Solet, former member of the Middlesex District Attorney’s office and current chief legal counsel for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, discussed the pros and cons to their respective occupations and offered tips on how to strive within their demanding fields.
Here’s what the two attorneys had to say about their jobs:
“Most of the [Defendants] are the ones that society needs to somehow figure out how to fix, not sent to jail. A lot of your clients will have fallen on rough times or have made a stupid mistake, meaning that you can easily distinguish between those who really need to be in jail and those who do not. That’s why I do this,” Solet said.
“This job is not about discovering who is guilty and who isn’t, because most of the time they’ve done the crime. Being a defense attorney is about weeding though who deserves the harsher or lesser punishment,” Segal said.
Interested in the federal side of the picture? The Criminal Law Section will welcome Assistant US Attorneys for the District of Massachusetts, Carlos Lopez and Giselle Joffrey on Tuesday, September 8, 2015, from 5:00-7:30pm. Click here to learn more. Additionally, don’t miss the next Summer Careers Series Program, , ‘What’s It REALLY Like Working for a Government Agency?’ on July 30th at 12:30PM. Click here to register.
Zaek Rodriguez Kelly, a recent graduate of Excel High School in South Boston, is interning at the Office of the Attorney General through the BBA Summer Jobs Program.
For the first time in eight years, the Office of the Attorney General has a new leader. Just a few months into her tenure as Attorney General, Maura Healey is already working on initiatives as the people’s lawyer and forging connections in the community – one of which is particularly meaningful to an Excel Academy student and future Marine.
Zaek Rodriguez Kelly has impressive goals: a recent graduate, he will spend the next four years in the Marines and hopes to study engineering or counter-intelligence after that. “I wanted to start in a law environment to get some background skills and knowledge about the justice system,” he explained when asked why he had applied to the program. “It’s certainly opening doors for me and helping me to understand this side of the law.”
With his direct supervisor Ellen Tierney, an administrator in the Trial Division of the office, and Jean Mejia, the office’s Director of Employee Relations & Recruitment, it’s clear that Zaek has found a supportive educational setting: the three comfortably chatted with an unforced rapport, and he listened closely as Tierney discussed with him some of the upcoming proceedings he would be seeing, such as a motion to dismiss at the U.S. District Court and more opportunities to see trial attorneys in action.
And for their part, Tierney and Mejia were enthusiastic about Zaek’s presence in the office. “Because he’s new to the law, and because he’s appreciative about having this job, Zaek is so much more willing to learn everything; it’s refreshing,” Tierney said. Mejia added, “He is fully committed to the work every day he is here.”
Tierney agreed. “Zaek is an awesome listener and very thoughtful with his work. And he’s fast! I told him that we were more concerned with accuracy than speed – but it turns out he’s fast and accurate.”
So far, Zaek has worked on archiving projects; helped to organize medical records for a specific case; studied as a witness for a mock trial; photographed maps for land registration cases; and gained other useful general office skills. As the summer continues, he will continue to meet attorneys in the office and get a closer look at what the Office of the Attorney General is all about and what the life of a trial attorney is like.
Zaek has worked on a number of projects, including archiving and photographing maps at the AG’s Office.
But more than that, Zaek has the chance to experience the camaraderie of the office and have the chance to prep for his future. “Seeing a professional work environment is great – it’s very helpful,” he said simply; his smiling interactions with other members of the office suggest that his time so far in the office has meant a lot to him.
And it means just as much to the office to have him there. “Attorney General Healey is very excited to host a Summer Jobs student. Our participation in the program is one way to strengthen connections with the people who are the fabric of the Boston community,” Mejia said. “There’s no better way to do that than through connections with the city’s schools and really impacting the future of students who are at the early stages of their careers. Everyone feels the benefit of having more diverse perspectives in the office.”
Beyond participating in the BBA’s Summer Jobs Program, the Attorney General’s Office also initiated the Summer Youth Jobs Grant Program, which this year awarded over $300,000 in grants to fund about 200 summer jobs for youth across 46 organizations.