Listen to the interview (approx. 46 min.) or download it.
Graduated in 2013 with majors in Performance and Music Business. Principal instrument: voice.
Position: Assistant Public Defender in the Miami Dade County Office. One of roughly 300 attorneys working for the county who represent those who can’t afford private legal help, Devon, as a first-year defender, handles misdemeanor cases–offenses which lead to less than a year in prison “from a simple battery to a DUI to criminal traffic violations such as driving with a suspended license.” Devon deals with an average of around 180 cases at any one moment, around 10 of which she’s in court for on a given day. Devon has done 6 trials since starting the job 9 months ago, ” Which is a lot for a new attorney–you can’t get so many trials as a new attorney, unless you’re a public defender or work in a DA office.”
Overview: Devon started Berklee as a performance major, but double majored after her mother convinced her that business would be practical and help her understand her own contracts better. She really enjoyed a contract negotiation class she took at Berklee, and found that interested her more than constantly performing. After graduation, thinking about the life she wanted to lead (“I wanted a career and a family. I didn’t want to be a gypsy in New York, waiting tables to make ends meet”), she decided to go to law school and pursue a career in entertainment law. Working several different odds jobs during that first year, Devon researched law schools, took the LSATs, applied and got into the three schools she applied for, electing to go to the University of Miami Law School because she loved the city.
During her second year at law school, between a contract class and an internship, Devon realized that “Entertainment law is all about contracts, and I hate all the minutiae of contracts!” She felt a bit lost, but the performance aspect of trials. A professor invited her to join the school’s trial team. Later, the trial team coach suggested that Devon look at the Miami Dade County public defender’s office. During her last year at law school she started interning there–as a certified legal intern she could represent clients and do trials!–and within a few weeks she was accepted to work there once she finished law school in the spring of 2017 and took the bar exam. (Devon got a raise once she passed.)
You can see Devon’s LinkedIn profile here.
Choice Quotes: “When I did my internship at the public defenders office I realized that not only could I be like a performer again, but I also could give back to the community and be a lawyer for people who don’t have a voice. I feel so good helping people who can’t help themselves.”
“About 80% of my cases get dismissed. Witnesses don’t show up, we’ll have motions and have a chance to talk, and before the trial we’ll get to a dismissal or a conditional dismissal such the client attending an anger management course. The other 20% is either a plea or a trial–usual a plea. We’ll try to get the best deal for our clients, such as community service hours rather than cash fines because many are poor.”
I’ve never before had a job where I worked such long hours because I care and I like it! If you’re passionate about helping people, want to do something different every day and not sit behind a desk and use those performance skills, this is a good option.
There’s a loan forgiveness program when you work in public service. Work 10 years and pay your minimum payment on time every month for 10 years and the remaining debt is forgiven. I’ve had private attorneys offer me a job, and I reply ‘No, not yet.’ because I have a lot more experience and autonomy working here. By staying in public service, I take a pay cut now but then can ask for more later.”
“I loved Berklee. I still consider myself a musician, and perform as often as I can. At first it was hard when I was thinking about this career. People would say ‘You’re giving up after all that work?’ But I don’t feel that I’m giving up, just that I found the right path for me. I’ve been able to use everything I learned at Berklee in my job now.”
See the full index of successful Berklee alumni.