Elizabeth G Schultz

Hometown: Ballston Lake, NY

Undergraduate School:

B.A., Rutgers University; Spanish

Ed.M., Rutgers University

Job: Public Defender, Defender Association of Philadelphia

Temple Law Community

I was a Rubin-Presser Social Justice fellow, Moot Court member, and I served as a Teaching Assistant for both Professor Margolis in Legal Research and Writing and the Honorable L. Felipe Restrepo in Trial Advocacy. I served on the boards of several student orgs: School Discipline Advocacy Service, Student Public Interest Network, and NLG Expungement Project, and I founded the Political and Civil Rights Society. Getting involved in the student org scene is an incredible way to tap into a thriving community and start making connections. Occasionally law students are told to focus on academics and not get involved as a 1L—I completely disagree. I got so much support right from the beginning of law school that helped me succeed in classes, get internships, get my job, and I still lean on even now. Even if you do not apply to be on boards, you should still go to meetings and events. I was especially drawn to volunteer-based organizations during 1L; stepping out of the law school tornado helped remind me why I’m here.

Experiential Opportunities

I was not a fan of exam courses so I took as many writing classes and did as many internships as I could after 1L. I split my 1L summer between ACLU-DE and ACLU-PA, and interned at Kairys Rudovsky Messing Feinberg & Lin during my 2L summer. During the semester I interned for credit at PA Innocence Project, Juvenile Law Center, Defender Association, Federal Reentry Court, on the Third Circuit with Judge McKee, and worked closely with the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project through the Sheller clinic, Justice Lab. I also had quasi internships at Education Law Center and Community Legal Services through student orgs and volunteer work and completed my Trial Advocacy certificate.

I cannot recommend experiential opportunities more highly. So many doctrinal concepts clicked for me as I saw them play out in real life, and I got to have such amazing experiences. I investigated a case for someone who was convicted of murder and asserted their innocence. I wrote an amicus brief for a state supreme court for someone facing the death penalty. I helped save clients over $7,000 in traffic court. I worked on several high-profile lawsuits that attracted national attention. I fangirled while meeting Adam Foss, Bryan Stevenson, Peter Neufeld, Larry Krasner, Ralph Nader, and the incomparable Justice Ginsburg. I adored my Reentry clients and grew by getting to work closely with them all year. Getting to argue real cases on behalf of real clients in front of real judges in the Defender clinic was my favorite part of law school—especially since my opponents were often DA interns with whom I took Trial Advocacy the year before!

Volunteer Experiences

I spent over 400 hours volunteering while in law school, primarily for School Discipline Advocacy Service (SDAS), NLG Expungement Project, at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance clinics, and for the ACLU. The most meaningful was my time with SDAS. We advocate for Philly public school kids in disciplinary transfer and expulsion hearings. I started as a 1L rep, then in my 2L year  I was an intake chair, then as a 3L I was training chair and created our appeals program. Each year I also took as many cases as I could. I loved supporting the family and child during a challenging time and getting to advocate in a small way against the school-to-prison pipeline. I also loved sharpening my skills by advocating in hearings and in appeals, developing strategy, and seeing what works and refining arguments. The outcome of the hearings matter; clients face tangible and immediate consequences to their futures that can be devastating. I love being a force that opposes the flow toward the carceral system while they are still at a tender age. I even keep in touch with some of my clients.

SDAS taught me how to develop a case theory, theme, strategy, and how to advocate through storytelling. It also taught me probably the most valuable lesson I learned during law school. When SDAS and the Expungement Project brought Karla Cruel in to speak about client relations, she emphasized the importance of partnering with clients, not being their heroes. It was such an intuitive lesson but one that budding saviors need to hear—it has such profound consequences in shaping our advocacy. I am especially grateful for it, and SDAS, as I head to the Defender Association after graduation!