Krystal RodriguezAlumna, Class of ’12
As a community organizer and volunteer, Krystal Rodriguez noticed that the energy being put into organizing efforts was disproportionate to the end results. “It seemed to me that this gap had to do with a lack of legal experience and counsel,” she said. “I thought a legal education was a way to bridge that gap.”
Originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, Rodriguez chose CUNY Law to gain hands-on public interest experience. “Other schools have specific projects or programs devoted to the public interest, but it’s rare that it’s the main mission of the school,” she said.
When Rodriguez entered law school, she was interested in education and immigration. However, her Criminal Law and Constitutional Law classes changed her mind. While in law school, she interned at the Legal Aid Society criminal defense practice in Kew Gardens, Queens.
She wrote motions and memos of law, interviewed and represented clients at arraignments, shadowed attorneys, and spent a great deal of time in court observations. “I understood a lot of the language and tactics being used in court because of the Criminal Procedure and Trial Advocacy classes I took,” she said.
Rodriguez remembers shadowing an attorney who got a full acquittal on a case that he initially felt was hopeless. “The client wanted to take the case to trial, so the attorney took it to trial. At first, it seemed that the DA had a strong case, because there was a lot of scientific evidence. Fortunately, the attorney I was shadowing studied to have a working knowledge of the DNA evidence. He prepared well. His diligence and commitment really impressed me,” she said.
These days, Rodriguez is dedicated to representing Brooklyn residents as a staff attorney with the Brooklyn Defender Services.