Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Olevia Boykin ’17

I was in the Education Adequacy Project and the Criminal Justice Clinic, which are two very different clinics. The Education Adequacy Project—you’re essentially working kind of as an associate for a firm on this complex civil litigation issue. And then the Criminal Justice Clinic is direct client services, where you have a client that you’re working with and my client has my phone number and calls me and gives me updates. So part of the benefit was being able to see just the wide variety of options you have in clinical opportunities here. And a lot of people will do multiple, which I think is—like, I knew nothing about complex civil litigation, and now I do. So I changed over to the Criminal Justice Clinic because that’s part of the reason I came to law school because I thought I wanted to be a public defender. And it’s shown me the realities of the criminal justice system and also in contrast to, I’ve worked at other public defender’s offices, and it’s shown me how localities matter, and how your training in each one matters, and gives you a nuanced perspective to the practice of law that you wouldn’t get sitting inside of a classroom.

There are a lot of ways to be involved in criminal justice and issues surrounding the public interest community. So I was in Sentencing last semester with Fiona Doherty, which is, like, a practice-esque based class. Speakers come in every week, and then you actually talk about the law of sentencing. And then this summer I was at the Bronx Defenders, which is arguably one of the best public defense offices in the country, and I learned best practices. And then I came this semester, and I’m in the Criminal Justice Clinic. And then through talks and other things I’ve met a lot of people who are interested, so last semester when Governor Malloy came and gave his talk, I met up with a nonprofit who does things around retraining corrections officers to be more humane to inmates, which is an exciting side project that I would have only been able to get involved with because of Yale.

A student perspective on clinics and criminal justice law at Yale Law School.