Arielle Egan

Hometown: Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

Undergraduate School: Boston University; Anthropology

Job: Public Defender at The Defender Association of Philadelphia

Program: Part-Time Evening

Temple Law Community

I was most active with The Committee of 51, an organization that creates a space for Temple’s evening students. Working full-time and going to law school part-time brings its own host of challenges. It was a fantastic experience working with a group dedicated to supporting evening students. I also participated in Outlaw, an LGBTQ student group.

Faculty Influence

Temple is rich in influential professors. Assistant Dean Bretschnider greatly influenced my legal education. I was her teaching assistant for two summers in the Chinese L.L.M. program, a program that hosts students from our sister school in China to learn about the American court system. Professor Bretschnider has an impressive presence in the courtroom, and has taught me that the most powerful advocate is one who knows the power in her own voice, rather than one who emulates someone else’s.

Experiential Opportunities

During the summer between 3LE and 4LE, I was given a leave of absence from work to spend my summer with the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP). HAP was founded to meet the legal needs of homeless individuals and families in Philadelphia. As an intern, I helped staff legal clinics at shelters and soup kitchens across the city. This experience meant a lot to me because I learned about civil legal work, and more importantly, about resilience.

Access to social programs intended to reduce poverty is becoming increasingly limited. The attorneys, staff, and clients at HAP showed me that although more and more barriers are being erected through policies based on false premises – like the assumption that poor people do not work – many people are ready to help the most vulnerable overcome those barriers.

Impact

I could not be more honored to begin my career as a Public Defender. I know that the work will be frustrating, often exhilarating, and always demanding. It will be a privilege to enter people’s lives at a particularly difficult moment and to defend them. The people who suffer the most in our criminal justice system have been failed by policies that disproportionately target people of color, immigrants, and the impoverished. I chose Temple Law because it is ranked second in the nation for its trial advocacy programs. I intend to take those skills to court to fight for my future clients, and, at a later point in my career, for a more just system.