To me, the phrase the “criminal justice system” has always evoked the image of a well-oiled machine. A case comes into the courthouse and—after a little under the hood mechanics—is transformed into a verdict. My mechanical vision of criminal justice led me to believe that a career in law would necessarily be mundane and repetitive. Halfway through my internship, I have come to realize I was entirely wrong.
Cases certainly enter Boston Municipal, but sentences depend on countless factors. Last week, the office also hosted a “Brown Bag Lunch” where they invited interns to hear a speaker: the head of the Family Protection and Sexual Assault Bureau, David Deakin. Deakin discussed a rape and robbery he was prosecuting in which the defendant was an identical twin. While his DNA had been found on the victim, his brother’s DNA matched the sample as well. In 2014—ten years after the assault—a German company became the first to pioneer a DNA test that could differentiate between identical twins. Deakin now prepares to be the first prosecutor to ever introduce ultra-deep next-generation sequencing in court, setting a legal precedent for years to come. His job certainly did not sound systematic or dull.
Even my “boring” tasks as an intern have proved to be exciting, thought provoking and incredibly gratifying. Answering phone calls is exceptionally rewarding, when there is a victim on the other end expressing how thankful they are to have someone they can contact directly to update them on the status of their case. Shadowing the daily routine of my supervisors is so impactful, when I get to watch them help transform timid, vulnerable victims into confident, self-advocates willing to testify against their assailant. And filling out paperwork is extremely satisfying when I know I am creating an important document that a prosecutor will use in an upcoming trial. My work has taught me important skills such as how to work in a high-paced environment where assignments often need immediate attention and how to stay calm when presented with unfamiliar situations and tasks. I truly feel like I am developing skills that will better equip me to enter the work force, teaching me how to adapt, take direction and be a leader.
As a student preparing to apply to law school, I hoped my internship would provide me clarity as to my future career goals and I have not been disappointed. This internship has allowed me to see the legal system from a closer perspective and through a far different lens then any academic or on-campus experiences have permitted. My experience at Boston Municipal has proved to be exceptionally different than learning about legal issues in a classroom. Rather than reading about the criminal justice process or learning about an individual’s legal rights from an analytic perspective, I am able to see these issues unfold. The work is fast-paced, exciting, and extremely rewarding. Seeing the application of law makes me realize the integral role the legal system plays in maintaining order within our society.
Overall, this experience is making me confident that pursuing a career in law is, undoubtedly, the right decision for me.
Dustin Fire, ’17
Social Justice WOW Fellow