Student Posts

A New Sense of Community

The sense of community at UVA Law played a huge role in my decision to come here. I wanted to learn from and make meaningful connections with my classmates. For me, the relationships I was going to build outside the classroom were as important as the professors teaching the classes. As I began 1L last year, I expected to feel integrally connected to the UVA Law community. Coming back for 2L, on the other hand, I knew I was going to feel out of place.

My next two years of law school will be fundamentally different than the vast majority of my classmates. Most 2Ls have locked down firm jobs for next summer—jobs that will almost definitely turn into $180,000 salaries after they graduate. It’s been fun to listen to my friends talk about flying all over the country, staying in fancy hotels, and sampling the lavish lifestyle at different firms. And don’t get me wrong—every time I hear about my classmates getting a callback or accepting an offer, I’m thrilled for them. But I’m an outsider during those conversations. I don’t relate, I can’t tell my own OGI stories, and all these firm names mean nothing to me. I don’t share these experiences with them.

When they ask me how my job search is going, it gets even more uncomfortable. Because as little as I know about OGI, I might know even less about my career search. Sure, I have a go-to answer to get myself out of the hot seat. I don’t really know what I’m doing though.

Thankfully, I’m not the only person at UVA braving the public service route. Recent conversations with my “no-G-I” friends and other LPS classmates have restored my sense of community and comfort. Our public service community is small, but strong. We are all venturing down very different paths, but we share a sense of solidarity. Importantly, I’ve been reminded that for some that path will include OGI and a short stint at a firm. I’m excited to continue to build relationships with my LPS peers, and I can’t wait to see the incredible things they’re going to do.

In the end, and thanks in large part to LPS, I know I have people supporting me, and people who I will support. My sense of community at UVA may have faded, but it has resurged different and more meaningful than before.

jbennie-headshotJeremy Bennie, a 2L from central Massachusetts, graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park. While there, he created his own major, called Leadership in a Diverse Society. Jeremy has interned with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil and Human Rights. He loves distance running and is currently training for his seventh marathon.

Conversations with Practitioners

Adam Heyman

Conversations with Practitioners is our ongoing series in which we ask current practitioners about their careers.

1. What do you currently do?

I am a public defender at the Legal Aid Society in the Criminal Defense Practice in Brooklyn, New York.

2. What does your job entail?

I represent low-income individuals accused of crimes, ranging from low level offenses to charges that carry a sentence of life in prison.  I meet my clients right after they have been arrested in criminal court arraignments and guide them through the entire criminal process, which can include trial.

3. What drew you to doing this kind of work?

From first grade to fourth grade I lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, because my father was working for the United States Agency for International Development.  Being exposed to abject poverty made me realize that I wanted to spend my life trying to help those in need in some way.   Then, during the summer in between undergrad and law school, I interned at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia as an investigator.  In that role, I worked with an amazing public defender who drew me to this life-saving type of work.

4. What did you do in law school or immediately after law school that has helped you develop your career?

While not the typical public defender path, working at a large corporate law firm for two years right after graduating from law school trained me to be a better public defender because I was required to provide high-level client services in an extremely intense environment.

5. Do you have any advice for current law students who are interested in working in your industry (or law students in general)?

Prior to interviewing with a public defender office, make sure you have a compelling reason for why you want to do this type of work.  What is presently going on in this country within our criminal justice system is nothing short of the civil rights issue of our generation.  Make sure interviewers know how deeply you care about this fight.

Adam HeymanAdam Heyman is an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice, in Brooklyn, New York.  Adam is a continuing legal education lecturer, intern supervisor and recruiter for the Legal Aid Society.  He also guest lectures at various law schools on his work as a public defender and criminal law.  In 2010, Adam took a six-month sabbatical to help run the nascent public defender system in Kathmandu, Nepal, as an international fellow with the International Legal Foundation.  Prior to joining the Legal Aid Society, Adam was a corporate lawyer at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld, LLP, in their Manhattan office.  He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, magna cum laude, majoring in Theology.  He also attended Oxford University, St. Peter’s College, studying comparative law.  He received his juris doctorate from UVA Law in 2003.