Spotlight on 2012 Grantee, Vivian Valencia

Vivian Valencia is originally from Turlock located in the Central Valley of California. She attended Loyola Marymount University as an undergraduate. This summer she is working in the Misdemeanor Unit at the Office of the Federal Defender for the Eastern District of California.

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

I chose USF because it’s a Jesuit institution with a mission I believe in, it is closer to my family thanLos Angeles, and because the clinic programs – especially the Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Clinic – offer a unique and practical experience that other law schools don’t.

What kind of work did you do this summer or what type of projects did you work on?

This summer I represented indigent clients charged with federal misdemeanors under the supervision of the Chief Assistant Federal Defender. I handled a case load which included appearing in court at various stages (arraignment to sentencing), doing legal research and writing, writing and arguing motions, conducting plea negotiations, doing investigation, and interviewing clients and witnesses, in Spanish, when necessary. I worked on cases with various issues including: fraud, disorderly conduct, expired or suspended licenses or vehicle registration, possession of illegal weapons, and theft. The best part was the hands-on experience and the opportunity to brainstorm with the other certified students and the Assistant Federal Defenders, who were always available to offer their tips.

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

I am most inspired by the dedication public defenders have to their clients. Through the endless obstacles they encounter, somehow they seem to get up in the morning and continue telling the stories of people who are often shunned in society.

What would you like to do following law school?

I would like to pursue a career in public defense after law school.

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