Judge Merrick Garland wrote, “The great joy of being a prosecutor is that you don’t take whatever case walks in the door. You evaluate the case; you make your best judgment.”
This semester I was fortunate to work at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.
Initially assigned to the public corruption unit, I was unsure what to expect when I moved to the major crimes division my first week. Over the past semester, I worked on international kidnapping, homicide, armed robbery, and food stamp fraud cases. Through reading records, attending trials, and speaking with FBI and other law enforcement agents, I tried to learn about the defendants. In the myriad cases I worked on, I felt that my supervisors were thoughtful, deliberate, and compassionate in considering the aims of federal prosecution, defendants’ histories, and their best chances at rehabilitation.
My experience may not have been the norm and reminded me that several things that need to be improved in the criminal justice system, but it affirmed my deep respect of the bureaucratic norms, independence, and integrity upheld by the attorneys in the office.
My time at the USAO taught me that doing justice is extremely difficult, but ultimately an aim worth pursuing.
— Medha Gargeya, J.D. ’19
I chose to participate in the United States Attorney Clinic because I knew it would provide an experience unlike anything I would get in my first few years as an Army Judge Advocate. While in the clinic I was able to work with both the major crimes and appeals units and found both aspects extremely rewarding. In the major crimes unit, I was given the opportunity to sit in on numerous court sessions, interview and prepare witnesses for hearings, and attend meetings in the judges’ chambers. It was beneficial to see just how different each lawyer’s advocacy style is, and that regardless of how I choose to style my own advocacy for clients I can be successful. As part of my work in the appeals unit I was fortunate to help draft a response brief for a case involving charges of material support to a terrorist organization. This case was particularly rewarding for me because of my background in the military, and also because it gave me a chance to help create the end product that was eventually argued in the circuit court. The feedback I received on my writing and research for the appeals unit was far superior to any of the feedback on legal research and writing that I received elsewhere during my time at Harvard Law School. This experience helped to strengthen my writing skills and provide confidence for me in my abilities to research and craft persuasive and effective arguments. Lastly, in April I was invited to come back to the courthouse to watch my supervisor argue the brief at the circuit court. I also found that the lawyers, legal, and administrative staff at the office were fantastic people to be around. Not only were they passionate about their work, but they were intent on ensuring I was given a robust and rewarding experience in my short time with the clinic.
— Pamela Gaulin, J.D. ’19