Hayden Nelson-Major

Experience Prior to Law School

I grew up in Wayne, PA. I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. After college, I moved to Philadelphia and worked at the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the Federal Community Defender Office, Capital Habeas Unit.

Student Groups

As a member of the Moot Court team, I was fortunate enough to take Appellate Advocacy with Professors Levy and DeJarnatt. In that class, we briefed and argued an actual case that was currently pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Researching the issues, learning the rules of appellate procedure, drafting an actual brief and preparing for oral argument was an invaluable experience. I feel much more confident in my research and writing skills as a result of taking this course.

After the semester was over, we were able to observe the attorneys on the case actually argue before the Third Circuit. It is a credit to Professors Levy and DeJarnatt’s skillful guidance that we, as a class, had identified and developed all of the same arguments that the attorneys actually litigating the case put forth.

Clinical Experience

I did three clinicals - the PA Innocence Project, the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and the Office of the Public Defender in Camden, NJ. I have found Temple’s experiential learning opportunities to be invaluable tools for synthesizing doctrine learned in the classroom and developing practical skills. Representing actual clients in misdemeanor trials through the Defender Association clinical this past semester was particularly rewarding.

Volunteer Experience

This past year I volunteered with an organization called Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) and its Community Records Expungement Project. Volunteering with PLSE has been the most meaningful volunteer experience I have engaged in as a Temple Law student. The Project works with the community to reduce the collateral effects of criminal records through direct representation, advocacy, and public education. I am excited to continue to volunteer with PLSE and watch it grow.

Favorite Faculty Member

I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to learn from Professor Ohlbaum in his evidence class and as his research assistant during my second year at Temple. Professor Ohlbaum consistently challenged me to set high standards for my academic performance, volunteer service and career ambitions.

His impact on Temple Law and the greater Philadelphia legal community has been profound. Professor Ohlbaum was the embodiment of the qualities of a great advocate – selflessness, curiosity and a commitment to justice. His passion and commitment to justice were infectious and I know I am not alone when I say that Professor Ohlbaum inspired me to believe in myself.

How I Will Use My J.D.

I see my law degree as a tool for addressing the inequality that pervades our criminal justice system. I decided to attend law school and Temple in particular because I wanted to be a public defender. Three years later, my commitment to public defense is even stronger. However, my time at Temple Law has pushed me to think more holistically about the criminal justice system. I am interested in and inspired by the work people are doing to address the collateral consequences individuals and communities grapple with as a result of contact with the criminal justice system. I hope that my law degree will enable me to be an effective part of this growing movement.