Young? Black? Female? Attractive? I fit the profile of many things, a prosecutor not being one of them. As a law student, I had an externship with the State Attorney’s Office and this is where I fell in love with prosecution. The fast pace and search for justice drove me to become a prosecutor for about two years up until the end of this summer. During my time with the office there were only three black prosecutors at any given time and only one of them being a black female other than myself in my final few months. This is an office that encompasses six counties, almost 300,000 people with 35% of those people being black. So, in a place where 35% of the people were blacks there were only three of us out of around forty or more prosecutors overall.
People would ask me all the time “as a black woman how can you be a prosecutor.” I would take that question and make it a learning experience for the person who presented it. I would ask “if you commit a crime and you’re going to be prosecuted, who would you prefer to prosecute you, a person with a similar culture or someone who is a member of the majority?” When I posed my follow-up question and the back and forth that would tend to ensue the person asking the question would typically start to understand the importance of minority representation in positions of power. Many people do not realize how important their local State Attorney’s Office is. The prosecutor on a person’s case has so much broad latitude to do as she sees fit on a case. This could spell out dramatic differences for an accused depending on who is on the other side. I enjoyed my years working for the State but recently I decided to make the shift to private practice.
I always knew that one day I would shift from prosecution to the defense. Before doing so I wanted to get the experience as a litigator that comes easiest while working as a prosecutor. I have taken the plunge and switched to doing criminal defense as well as personal injury law. As far as criminal defense was concerned it was an easy transition as I already knew the laws and knowing the other side makes it even easier to anticipate their arguments. Doing personal injury was completely new for me and I had to get used to all of the medical terminology that is ever-present. Overall, I am very happy with the decisions regarding my career that I have made and I believe I made the best moves I could have made.