Meet Emily Rathburn, RLAW '23, Rutgers Law School in Newark
Where did you spend your summer working? NJ Office of the Attorney General, Conviction Review Unit
What did you learn there? This summer, I interned at the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General in the Conviction Review Unit (CRU), a bureau within the Division of Criminal Justice. This rather new unit reviews claims of actual innocence from incarcerated persons with felony convictions. During my time at CRU, I drafted briefs and memoranda for cases the unit was investigating. I also conducted research on areas such as eyewitness identification and pathways to exoneration within the N.J. Court Rules. I was fortunate to be involved with several exciting cases and to experience the unit’s first exoneration. Not only did I improve my knowledge of criminal law, but I also got to look at the systemic issues which lead to wrongful convictions. I was able to make meaningful connections with coworkers, improve my trial advocacy skills, and contribute to a cause that I’m passionate about.
How did receiving a public interest grant allow you to have this experience? Thanks to my PILF grant I was able to fully take advantage of this experience without undue financial burden and I am grateful for the support. As a result, I could fully dedicate my time to this internship and make the most of my time at CRU.
What would you tell other students? I'd like to encourage all students to get involved in public interest work. Rutgers Law has a great public interest community and opportunities for financial support. Between student organizations, the pro bono office, and internship opportunities, there is sure to be an issue you're passionate about and can help support!