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Heather O’Connor is a 3L. After a seven year marriage and three kids, Heather went through a divorce that left her questioning what to do with her life. She decided to become an attorney and has never looked back since beginning the long journey. She entered a local community college after...

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As my summer begins to fade into fall . . .

Posted by Heather O'Connor on 07/25/2010 at 12:12 PM

There are only a few days left in July. This pretty much means that my summer is almost over. I have two weeks left of my internship, two weeks left until school committee and organization meetings start up, and only three more weeks until training for the criminal defense clinic and my other classes begin.

However, as fast as it has flown by, this summer has been really great. I have been interning with the RI Attorney General’s Office in the Juvenile Prosecution Division as a Rule Nine. This means I get to actually argue in court. When I first accepted the internship, I was very concerned that I would not feel comfortable requesting young children to be detained in jail. However, my supervisor, Fiedlim Gill, explained to me right from the start that the juvenile system is meant to focus more on rehabilitation than on punishment. He worded the job responsibilities in a very humane and caring light, and I was immediately much more comfortable with standing in court arguing to limit a child’s freedom or to take it away completely by requesting they be held at the Rhode Island Training School (the juvenile prison). I adjusted very quickly and love arguing arraignments before the family court justice.

The first week, as I sat in the court observing, I kept seeing each child as my own. Many of them are in there just because they made a stupid mistake. Many are in there because they had no real chance to begin with, and those are the saddest cases but I think the ones you become most passionate about because you want to give the child the services and help that he or she needs to be able to reach their full potential in life. These kids are the ones that come to face the judge and their parents don’t show up. Perhaps the parents couldn’t be found or perhaps they just didn’t care enough to take the time to show up in the courtroom for their child. Even sadder are the cases where I may ask for home confinement and the mother stands up and asks for her child to be sent to the Training School because she doesn’t want him or her at home any longer. Sadly, this happens a lot. Some of these situations I completely understand – the kid seems to be out of control, will not listen to any authority figure, including his or her mother, or is a safety concern for other children in the house. However, there do seem to be some parents that just don’t want to be stuck at home caring for their child while the child is confined to the four corners of their home. Parents like that I wish could be sued for bad parenting. But that’s out of our reach.

I am happy to say that I am very impressed by RI’s juvenile justice system, and I am very glad to have had the chance to intern with the AG’s office this summer.

That doesn’t mean I’m quite ready to jump back into the academic fall semester though. But as life seems to go, it doesn’t matter if you’re ready or not, you have to find a way to deal with it. As for all you incoming 1L’s, or people who are currently making the decision that you want to attend law school, this is an exciting time period that you should treasure and enjoy. Congratulations!!! You are about to enter an exciting journey that will change your life; one that will be challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. Enjoy the rest of your summer. =)