Summer Job Diaries: Balancing casework at the LA County Public Defender's Office



Annika Ford

Rising third-year student Annika Ford '21 spent the summer continuing a role she began last fall with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office. This experience afforded her the opportunity to develop skills in voir dire, motion writing and client interviews, all while practicing personal accountability during a transition to remote work.  

How did you land your summer job?

I first started working at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office in the fall of my second year. I initially applied after attending a public interest job fair for law students at UCLA. After many drafts and revisions, I emailed my resume and cover letter to the hiring attorney. Eventually I got asked to come in for an interview, and I found out I got the job soon after.

After about a month into my fall position, I knew that this is where I wanted to work. As soon as I heard that we would have the opportunity to apply again for the summer, I sent my updated resume and cover letter to the same hiring attorney whohad initially interviewed me. In addition to an updated resume and cover letter, I needed evaluations from the attorneys that I had previously worked with.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The most interesting part of the job this summer has been the ability to view online trainings that are usually only available to the newly hired public defenders. Due to work-from-home measures, trainings that are usually conducted in-person took place online. Lessons included guidelines for conducting voir dire, how to effectively write a Pitchess motion and how to successfully handle client interviews.

What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?

The most challenging part of this summer has not been a specific assignment so much as it has been learning to work from home efficiently and productively. I overcame work-from-home challenges by staying in contact with my assigned attorney and by holding myself accountable to a typical 8-to-5 schedule, with breaks and lunch in-between.

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

The skill that I am most grateful to have obtained during my job is effective work-place communication. COVID-19 has presented many challenges, but I have learned that demonstrating to my assigned attorney that I am organized and always available goes a long way.

What bit of legal knowledge have you been able to display?

Thanks to my legal writing classes, I felt equipped drafting memos and creating case charts and interview summaries.

How has LLS helped you map your career path?

Loyola Law School has always emphasized the value of networking, but this summer I saw that lesson through a new lens. While most understand the impact of networking for employment opportunities, building relationships has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the office that I hope to work for and the people I hope will be my colleagues.