Career Profiles

Sliman Nawabi ‘12

Deputy Public Defender for the City and County of San Francisco


Sliman Nawabi ‘12

What do you do?
I am a Deputy Public Defender for the City and County of San Francisco.

What excites you most about your job?
I wake up every day excited to go to work because I get to spend my day fighting for the most disenfranchised and vulnerable individuals whom are facing criminal charges. I witness firsthand the injustice in our criminal justice system towards minorities and impoverished people in our society – bails set higher, more aggravated charges, targeted policing, etc… The way I fight this injustice is by taking cases to trial to disprove false accusations made towards my clients. The thrill of trial is the best part of the job.

How did your experience at Whittier Law School prepare you for this job?
I am grateful for Whittier Law School not only in academically preparing me to be a trial attorney but also giving me the opportunity to have hands on training as an extern. Whittier Law School gave me the opportunity to extern with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office all throughout law school. My experience as an extern is what trained me early on to be in the courtroom and gave me an advantage when I was an applicant seeking my first trial attorney job. I landed my first job at a prestigious criminal defense firm, the Law Office of Barnett and Barnett, with the help of the Whittier Law School Alumni counselor who realized my externship experience would make me a good candidate for the job. After gaining my initial trial experience at this criminal defense firm I was able to secure a position as a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco. If it was not for Whittier Law School I would not be a Public Defender today.

Do you have any advice for those seeking employment in your industry?
The best advice I can provide is to seek internships, externships or job positions that will allow you to gain trial experience – even if this means you are not getting paid exceptionally at the start. Being a Public Defender means you will fight every day on behalf of your clients – you will not back down and go to trial. I believe if you have the blazing passion and the work experience you will be a great candidate as a Public Defender in any office.