Post 2: What is special about the Asset Forfeiture Unit?

Brandeis has taught me many things that encouraged me to apply and prepared me well for my internship in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. Among all, and in this blog, I would like to discuss how Brandeis helped me build a strong academic background; why it matters that much; and how it has contributed to my work in the internship site.

Entering Brandeis, I first majored in Philosophy and Studio Art, and then shortly followed with the third major in International Global Studies with three minors in Legal Studies, Art History, and East Asian Studies. The diversity of the courses that Brandeis provides and the flexibility of its academic curricula have encouraged me to explore different fields. I benefit from it not only as I have three majors and three minors, but also as I am able to connect all these fields of study with each other.

Among all the major or minor-related courses I took, some taught me to carefully read important texts to extract and evaluate arguments from them. Some taught me critical thinking skills such that I have formed my own ways of critically engaging with and building on the existing texts. Some taught me to develop creativity such as to extend theories beyond their original scope. Others taught me to conduct deep research in fields like history, art, and law. A part of my responsibility working in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office (MDAO)-Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) is to conduct legal research, critically engage with the existing legal languages, and connect them with the philosophy of this office.  All these academic learning and researching abilities that Brandeis trained me prepared me well for my role in the DA’s office.

Besides academic learning and researching abilities, attending Brandeis also taught me many other important qualities, such as organizational skills, time management skills, and interpersonal and communication skills. Other than the majors and minors, I have three on-campus jobs. With my intense schedule and rich experiences on campus, I learned how to manage my time wisely, how to handle stress, how to be a good listener, a collaborative team member, a strategic thinker, and a resourceful leader. With that background, I was able to adapt to different situations and work in my internship’s fast-paced environment.

AFU is the only civil litigation part of the DA’s office; the others are all criminal litigation units. It deals with asset forfeiture; in other words, it deals with criminals’ illegally-gained property and monies. Therefore, a very common task of mine is to work on Excel charts, making sure the case numbers, the defendants’ names the property amounts, and the police departments that seized the property are right, and that they match with each other for transparency reporting purposes. I usually need to check various sources to make sure the information we have is correct, which includes but is not limited to the Mass Court Website, the MDAO’S own data management system, and the actual case files (the police reports, etc.). Once the basic information is verified, what I do next is to track the monies that MDAO has or has not received judgments on. All these tasks require the ability to concentrate for a long time, and strong research and problem-solving skills. For example, what if the information on the Mass Court Website does not match with that in MDAO’s data management system? Which information is the right one, and how can I ensure that piece of information is the accurate one? Good communication skills are also needed as communication and teamwork is always the key to getting the job done correctly. I have gained these basic skills and abilities prior to this summer internship at Brandeis, while this internship further developed these skills.

A snapshot of the Mass Court website

-Carrie Sheng ’20

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