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Post-Bar Clerks Gain Hands-on Experience with Public Defender

Katie Nagler, Alex McDonald, Anthony Parker, Cassandra Borjon, Brianne McLaughlin, all class of 2014

When law school graduates finish taking the bar exam, many can’t wait to go to work as attorneys.

Five recent California Western graduates get to do the next best thing—going right to work in the San Diego County Public Defender’s Post-Bar Clerkship program work after taking the July 2014 bar exam.

Brianne McLaughlin, Katie A. Nagler, Alex McDonald, Anthony B. Parker, and Cassandra C. Borjon, all 2014 graduates, are jumping right into their new roles.

“I have been able to make court appearances, speak to clients, and work on other assignments,” says Borjon, who has dreamed about being a defense attorney since she was a child.

“I am learning so much,” says Nagler. “My colleagues are great and it is truly an amazing office to work in. I feel lucky to be a part of this program.”

“The Public Defender’s Office offers one of the most competitive and coveted post-bar exam Graduate Law Clerk employment opportunities of its kind in our region,” says Courtney Miklusak, Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development at California Western. “The level of training and practical experience the clerks attain during their term is unparalleled and most of them will have the opportunity to conduct multiple jury trials.”

“Our Post-Bar program attempts to identify the most skilled students of criminal law and give them the opportunity to continue their love of representing the most vulnerable members of our society,” says David Lamb, who supervises the Post Bar Program for the Public Defender’s Office. “As a post bar clerk and under the supervision of a licensed attorney, we expect the students to take on all responsibilities of a first year deputy public defender.”

“I wanted to get the practical experience and training to ensure that I have skills to start practice right away when I receive my bar results,” says McDonald, who wants to become a public defender.

“The post-bars are placed on the Central Misdemeanor Unit and we work alongside attorneys who carry misdemeanor caseloads,” says Nagler. “We make court appearances, appear on the record, draft and argue motions, and interact with clients. It is very ‘hands-on’ and exciting work.”

“I am hoping to gain experience in the court room—working  the cases from beginning to end,” says McLaughlin. “My experiences include going to trial, arguing motions, and speaking on the record in court every single day. Additionally, I get the opportunity to work with experienced attorneys and learn from them.”

According Lamb, there are future deputy public defenders in this group.

“This invaluable training prepares the students to become deputy public defenders immediately after passing the bar,” says Lamb. “It also gives the San Diego Public Defender’s office the opportunity to see who shines in a group of extraordinarily talented people. California Western students consistently perform well during this opportunity and represent the school proudly.”