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Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund

Austin Lucia

I decided to attend law school after working for the Washoe County Public Defenders office in Reno Nevada. My time there allowed me to see a group of hardworking, intelligent individuals who were protecting the right to a fair trial. They would work hard, and would often be underappreciated, but loved their job and occasionally really made a difference in someone’s life. When it was time to find a place to spend the summer between 2L and 3L, I decided to broaden my horizons and apply for a position with the Federal Defenders Office for the district of Nevada, also in Reno. AustinLucia

As a summer intern at the Federal Defenders Office, I had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at just how different the federal criminal system is than the state system that I knew. I learned all about the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, mandatory minimums and maximums, and how different the federal system is than what my previous notions were. I was able to assist on a variety of cases, including drug trafficking, gun possession, white-collar crime, illegal re-entry, Native American criminal cases that happened on reservations, and many others. I researched a variety of topics for the attorneys, from “what makes a plant a plant” to more complex issues such as tax evasion and federal fraud. I used my research to write motions to dismiss, motions to compel, and arguments for the attorneys to make at sentencing hearings. After seeing firsthand the federal system at work, I believe we can do better. Access to a fair justice system is a hallmark of our nation and one that we need to strengthen.

Having the opportunity to work at the Federal Defenders office has only strengthened my resolve to become a public defender. I love the work I was able to do, and the people who I connected with and tried to help. The OLSPIF stipend allowed me to devote my summer to helping the less fortunate people in my community have access to a more fair and balanced justice system. Thank you to everyone from the students to the faculty and especially the donors who allowed me to spend my summer following my dream.