Olivia Dulany ’21

Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York, New York, NY

This summer I had the privilege of working at the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, which is part of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. Because of the restrictions imparted by the pandemic, our program was moved to a remote platform; therefore, my ability to work alongside attorneys on their current cases was greatly limited, as was the possibility of going to court. Attention was shifted to our learning and our understanding of the law.

We started out the internship with an in-depth look at the philosophy of criminal law. Our supervisor gave us readings every night and had us complete assignments as checkpoints of our understanding. We also learned specific rules of criminal law in the state of New York pertaining to the rules of trial and evidence that is permissible, which would end up being helpful for our final presentations. Scattered throughout the eight weeks were guest lectures, both from attorneys at the office and partnering organizations. One of my favorite lectures was on the topic of alternatives to incarceration given by an organization that the office works closely with and a panel from community leaders in New York that facilitated a discussion on the intersection of the law and prejudice within the communities of New York City, specifically surrounding race and police bias as it pertains to the current events in our country. Similarly, during a few of our meetings, our supervisor set aside time for us to discuss current events, including conversations of race in our country as it relates to law enforcement, as well as the recent federal executions that took place over the summer.

Finally, as our program came to a close, we conducted a mock trial. Interns were split into two groups and assigned the role of either prosecutor or defense attorney and given actual narcotics cases from a few years ago. This was particularly exciting and challenging, and I was definitely kept on my toes during the trial. I prosecuted a case involving the possession and sale of cocaine, and it was both overwhelming and incredibly rewarding.

Going forward, I want to keep my options open in terms of what I want to do as a long-term career. While I am still considering a career in law (and I think I definitely have the personality that fits what a career in law demands), this internship has given me some clarity as to the kinds of decisions you have to make as an attorney and caused me to reflect on the overwhelming and frustrating nature of the law, and how hard it is to actually make a difference in a system that seems inherently one-sided.