Summer Job Diaries: Unwavering Advocacy at Federal Public Defender’s Office

Ashley Mahmoudian
Ashley Mahmoudian, extern in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California.

Ashley Mahmoudian, a rising third-year day student, is spending her summer as an extern in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California. She is an active figure on campus, serving as vice-chair of the Public Interest Law Foundation and Student Bar Association and volunteering in the Judge Stephen E. O'Neil Young Lawyers Mentoring Program.

How did you land your summer job?

I landed my summer job by connecting with professors and alumni who worked or currently work in the Federal Public Defender's Office. I approached the application process from all angles and told everyone I knew with a connection that I wanted to work there.

How did the Career Development Center help you secure the position?

The Career Development Center reviewed my resume and writing sample, which helped me attain the position.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The most interesting part of my job is meeting and working with brilliant and dedicated attorneys. Everyone working at the Federal Public Defender’s office, from administrative staff to supervising attorneys, has impressed me with their strong belief in the work they do and unwavering advocacy in support of their clients.

What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?

The most challenging assignment thus far has been helping to draft a petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court for a non-capital habeas case. It is very exciting to think the USSC may take on the petition, albeit highly unlikely.

What new legal skill(s) have you acquired during your summer job?

The new legal skills I have acquired are patience and coming up with creative, yet well-reasoned, arguments.

How has your Loyola education helped you make a difference in your placement?

My Loyola education has helped make a difference in my placement by affording me the practical skills necessary to enter a summer job and hit the ground running.

What LLS courses have you found most helpful to your position? Please explain.

The LLS courses I found to be most helpful in my placement are the Death Penalty Law Seminar with Professor Sean Kennedy, Habeas Corpus Litigation Seminar with Professors Gail Ivens and Joe Trigilio, Criminal Procedure with Professor Marcy Strauss, Constitutional Law with Professor Kimberly West-Faulcon and Evidence with Professor Kevin Lapp.

Also, externing for a district court Judge during the school year was extremely helpful in both understanding the legal landscape for federal public defender work and developing the legal research and writing skills necessary to be successful as a federal public defender summer clerk.

In what additional ways has Loyola helped you map your career path?  

Loyola has helped me map my career path by providing clinical experiences, offering pro bono work like the partnership with Clemency Project 2014 in which Loyola students write clemency petitions on behalf of federal inmates, and hiring exceptional professors who have such a strong desire to help students achieve their career goals.