Second year student Antwaun Gavins had the opportunity to intern in the public defender’s office while working with a Touro Law alum and mentor.
All Touro Law students are afforded real-world experiences through externships, internships, clinical work, and/or pro bono work. Touro Law students have been required to complete pro bono work as a graduation requirement since the early 1990s-- well before the New York State requirement. In addition, all students are guaranteed clinical or externship experience for academic credit. These real world, hands-on experiences often have a profound impact on students, including second year Antwaun Gavins.
Antwaun was an extern during the Spring 2014 semester at Suffolk County Legal Aid as part of the Criminal Law Externship Program. During his experience, Antwaun has had the opportunity to experience first-hand what a defense attorney does and the impact a defense attorney has on clients. According to Antwaun’s supervisor, “As an extern, Antwaun assisted with the daily calendar management and intake/conferences with our clients. He also provided assistance in legal research and drafting of omnibus motions and a plea in absentia.” According to Antwaun, “I believe the most rewarding aspect of this externship is the hands-on experience. I actually feel like I am making a difference in an individual's life. For me, the law isn’t about making a living, but rather making a difference.”
Through this externship, Antwaun gained valuable work experience as well as a mentor in the field of law he wants to enter after graduation. Antwaun’s supervisor during his externship was Oscar Crisafio, a Touro Law graduate of 2011. Interestingly, as a 2L, Oscar also worked at Suffolk County Legal Aid. Both Oscar and Antwaun also graduated from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice and they both are from the Elmhurst area of Queens. According to Antwaun, “There are a lot of similarities between Oscar and I, we mesh well together and I am confident he will serve as my mentor beyond this experience. Each day I observe how Oscar approaches every case with the same enthusiasm as the last. He has a level of commitment to each client which is surreal and inspiring.”
Likewise, Oscar sees a lot of promise in Antwaun’s future as a lawyer. According to Oscar, “[Antwaun] was great to work with, very efficient, understanding of the legal issues our clients faced, not afraid to ask questions when he didn't know the answer and handled himself very professionally. I have zero doubt that because of those characteristics and his work ethic that he will succeed in whichever path he chooses to pursue.”
According to Antwaun, “My journey thus far has led me to want to become a criminal defense attorney. I believe that no matter what the socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or gender, everyone deserves equal justice. This externship was an opportunity to do good for people who deserve representation while enhancing my legal education. And I gained a mentor for life.”
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