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Christopher Hughes (Class of 2016)

Evening Division
I came to law school with no real aspirations of doing public interest work. Although I have always been involved with numerous community services organizations, public interest work did not interest me or so I thought. However, I gained so much more from my numerous clinical experiences than I could have ever imagined. It is where I learned how to be a lawyer.

My clinical experience helped me rediscover why it is that I initially decided to become an attorney as a little boy. I never grew up saying I want to go to law school so that I could be a tax attorney. As a little boy, I remember being inspired by the story of Thurgood Marshall and Brown v Board of Education. From the beginning, I wanted to be a champion of justice. I wanted to right the wrongs in the criminal justice system, but somewhere through the years I forgot that inspiration. Participating in public interest helped me rediscover that passion and remember what inspired me to embark on this career path. I remember the fire that would take over every time I went to court to represent my clients. There is no other feeling that compares to knowing the work that you are doing is making a direct impact on someone’s life. The moment I was able to get a permanent restraining order for a client from her abusive husband will always be one of the proudest and most rewarding moments of my legal career.

In the fall of my third year of law school, as part of the Public Interest Law Seminar and Clinic, I was placed at New England’s in-house clinical office. There I received the best training that I could have ever asked for. From working with clients, to prepping cases, to going to court I was taught every aspect of being an attorney. I was prepared for every case, so that I never had to feel like I was walking into a courtroom unprepared.

The skills that I learned from participating in that clinic have been transferable to every other internship and clinic that I participated in. After my experience with the Public Interest Law Clinic, I was able to secure an internship with Greater Boston Legal Services in its Low Income Tax Clinic. I knew that I wanted focus my career on tax law, but I also wanted to do something that made a difference in the lives of others.

Through my work with the Low Income Tax Clinic, I was able to help clients once again become compliant with state and federal tax regulations. Here I was able to merge both my desire to do tax law and public interest work.

In my last year I gained a placement with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, which gave me a different perspective on public interest law. Like most people I never thought of prosecutors as champions of justice before my tenure at the DA’s Office. It was a unique experience as I learned how much it works with the community to ensure that the outcome of cases best serves both the defendant and the community.

I can honestly say that I cannot imagine my law school career without participating in public interest work. There is nothing more satisfying than the feeling of knowing that you helped someone who otherwise might not have been able to afford legal representation.

Although I have chosen a focus in tax law, I know that because of my work in public interest throughout law school I will continue to give my time to public interest law.

(May 2016)