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Lauryn Eason, Student Staff Member for the Center for Global Justice

This summer I have been working at the State Attorney’s Office in Sarasota, Florida. On my first day, I was assigned to the juvenile division. The attorney that I am working with has taught me and trusted me to file cases, write decline memos, conduct discovery, meet with and interview victims and witnesses, and work through a backlog of non-arrest cases from beginning to end.

This internship has given me the knowledge and skills that I will need after graduation to successfully transition from law school to practice. It was overwhelming at first to learn so many new things that I’d never done before, but I think this has been great preparation for how I may feel as I navigate the stress and frustration of the very steep and high-pressure learning curve of my first post-law school job.

On the other hand, it’s been a confidence boost to go through cases by myself and in the process of doing so, to catch mistakes others made before the case came to our office, then make corrections so that we have the best chance of obtaining justice. While I have a lot to learn, I can say now that I have been equipped to do this job and that I can trust myself to know when something seems off, the puzzle pieces don’t fit, or when a a piece of evidence is missing.

One of my favorite things that I’ve been able to do is go with the Sarasota Chief to TYLA (Turn Your Life Around) court. The 12th Circuit has a specific court program for women (and men) who have prostitution or drug/alcohol charges. Upon successful completion of the program, the charges will be dismissed. This program is incredibly innovative, as it provides a way to intervene for people who are being trafficked, and it provides an alternative therapeutic treatment to incarceration that is better suited for people with more specific, trauma-based needs. The concept of TYLA is still largely unique to Florida, but it is slowly spreading. TYLA partners with a local nonprofit for survivors of trafficking called Selah Freedom. I am curious if I could could implement the same program by partnering with Samaritan House in Virginia.

Furthermore, I’ve had a great chance to expand my network here and the Lord has established divine connections with people whose path it was unlikely that I’d cross otherwise. The first week that I got here, a former classmate invited me to a networking event on Anna Maria Island. I was nervous about not knowing anyone, but I attended the event (because who doesn’t love a good beach bash, right?) and sat at the first table I saw with an empty chair. Long story short, I had sat at a table with the Clerk of Court from Manatee County as well as the Chief Assistant State Attorney for all of Manatee. By the end of the night, we were all rolling in laughter, I’d gained a minefield of insight into what my summer would be like, and – after a sunset walk on the beach with the Chief – gained a new mentor.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.