Spotlight on 2011 PILF Grantee, Jennifer Snyder

By far one of the greatest ways USF Public Interest Law Foundation helps to make an impact in our community is by providing grants to USF Law students who choose to pursue unpaid summer legal work. This past summer, 25 remarkable students were selected to each receive grants of $4,000. We are proud to offer these grants through the generous donations we receive throughout the year as well as through several fundraising events sponsored by USF and PILF.

Our largest fundraising opportunity is the Annual PILF Gala and Auction. This year’s Gala and Auction takes place on November 4th. As the Auction draws nearer, we want to take a moment to introduce our most recent 2011 Summer Grantees in the Q&A’s below.

Jennifer Snyder Opens Up About Her Dedication To Public Defense

Jennifer Snyder is from San Jose and attended UC Irvine as an undergraduate.  This past summer she worked in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.




Why did you choose law school, and why USF in particular? 

One of the most rewarding experiences of my life was interning with the Orange County Public Defender. I experienced impoverished clients accused of heinous crimes.  I know the enjoyment and satisfaction that public defenders feel.  It was so gratifying to be able to contribute to these individuals’ lives, to stand up for them, and potentially improve their outcome.  My experience with the Orange County Public Defender was one of my sole motivations for going to law school. I cannot see myself doing anything else other than indigent criminal defense. I chose USF because of its emphasis on public interest.

What kind of work did you do this summer?

I worked with an attorney in misdemeanors, including domestic violence misdemeanors. I attended court, did interviews in jail, motions for court, transcripts, trial binders and more.

What do you find most interesting about the work you are doing or the organization you are working for?

I most enjoyed the courtroom drama — the highs and lows of winning and losing. However, public defenders are motivated by a desire to help those who society has essentially abandoned. I understand that one of the most difficult aspects of indigent criminal defense is working with people who live on the margins of society and entering their lives at particularly bad moments.  I understand that compassion and empathy are vital to effective representation.  Public defenders are able to look beyond the person accused of an illegal act and seek out the humanity within.

Are you interested in public interest legal work as a career? What sort of law would you like to practice? 

 Ideally, I would love to work as a public defender after graduation. Regardless, I plan to practice within the public interest field.

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