Emma Schulman ’24

New Hampshire Public Defender, Manchester, NH

This summer, I had the pleasure of working as an investigator intern with the New Hampshire Public Defender. My experience working there was nothing short of eye-opening, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity.

It was an incredibly engaging summer internship, with new projects and clients each day. Most of my work included interviewing clients or witnesses, drafting release forms and conducting research. However, many days also included field work. For example, my mentor and I went door-to-door looking for surveillance footage for our client’s case a few times this summer. Unfortunately, this tactic was not super helpful, but it taught me the importance of client management. Beyond work, each week I was invited to case conferences, where the attorneys would discuss current cases and seek advice from the office. I was able to learn a lot at these meetings. Whenever I had free time, I would walk to either the superior court or district court and watch whatever trials or hearings were going on at the time. I was able to sit in on drug court, family court and many other interesting cases that taught me a lot about how the justice system works.

Beyond work, I learned an incredible amount this summer. There were two training days in the beginning of the summer, and a few video calls sprinkled throughout. At these training sessions, I learned about opening and closing arguments, cross examinations, investigation and more. I also had a mentor, investigator Ashley Baker, who was incredibly helpful and inclusive. Ashley taught me what she had learned from working at the public defenders and allowed me to shadow her. Not only did I learn about the New Hampshire judicial system but also how to write succinct reports, how to interact with clients and how to collaborate with older, more professional attorneys.

Both my mom and dad were public defenders—quite some time ago—in the same office I worked at this summer. Growing up, I never fully understood their work or what they did each day, but everyone I worked with this summer taught me how incredible they must have been to have worked at the New Hampshire Public Defender. To work at the public defenders, you must be brave, you must be a storyteller, and you must be supportive toward those unsupported. While there were many humorous moments, there were also many moments where the New Hampshire justice system proved to be infuriating. It was great to see such a passionate and hardworking group of people try and fight this injustice. I feel that I made a real impact this summer and am proud of the work I was able to accomplish at New Hampshire Public Defender.

I want to thank the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for their support—I really appreciate it. Without them, I would not have been able to have this incredible experience.