Left of Law School


Many law students who care about serving historically marginalized and oppressed groups of people consider public defense work at some point while pursuing their JD. Jonathan Rapping, founder of Gideon’s Promise, says public defenders are carrying out modern civil rights work. On this episode of LLS, we explore the appeal and the challenge of public defender careers. I talk with two law students, Flannery Mack and Jessica Akerman, about their interest in becoming public defenders. I also interview Rhiannon (@Aywarhiannon) from the 5-4 podcast about her work as a public defender and her time as a progressive law student.

In deeper than doctrine this week, I play clips from comedian John Oliver and Jonathan Rapping, founder of Gideon’s Promise, an organization that trains and supports public defenders. I cite scholarship from James M. Anderson & Paul Heaton and an article from David Anderson called “The Problems With Public Defense Are Big, But They’re Fixable.”

Our law student community conversation this week is with Flannery Mack and Jess Akerman, two law students who are interested in becoming public defenders. Flannery comes from a family of public defenders and offers her thoughts on that experience, and Jess discusses her recent public defense internship, her death penalty experience, and what appeals to her about the field.

Finally, I interview Rhiannon (@Aywarhiannon) from the 5-4 Podcast! Rhiannon is a public defender in Texas and talks about how her work intersects with her social justice mission and progressive values. She also discusses her experience in law school and as an attorney living with ADHD.

Click HERE for the full episode.