Whittier Law School Graduate Attains Prestigious Clerkship with the San Diego Public Defenders Office

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The San Diego Public Defender’s Office has chosen one of Whittier Law School’s newest alumni, Mercedes Campbell, for a coveted Post-Bar Clerkship. These are one of the most competitive and coveted positions in this region: More than 300 applicants applied for the position, and only 19 students were chosen. Mercedes is the only graduate from Whittier Law School to be chosen for the clerkship. She says, “The interview process was difficult, but I am grateful for the Trial Advocacy program here. The program equipped me with all the tools I needed to get through each step of the interview process, which included having only twenty minutes to read over a fact pattern and answer difficult questions.” The paid clerkship position begins in August, after the bar exam, and continues through November.

The clerkship will give Mercedes hands-on experience by allowing her to make court appearances, draft and argue motions, interact with clients and conduct jury trials. She will also participate in a Trial Skills Academy, a comprehensive courtroom advocacy program taught by experienced trial attorneys. The clerks chosen for this position are expected to take on the responsibilities of a first-year deputy public defender.

Mercedes has met with great success at Whittier Law School, serving as the president of the Black Law Students Association and competing in the San Diego Defense Lawyers Fall 2014 Mock Trial Competition. She has also held two externships with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, in both the misdemeanor court and on the felony panel.

According to Mercedes, “When I began my journey here at Whittier, I had one goal and that was to become a public defender. This clerkship is one more step toward my goal. There are so many indigent people in this country who don’t know their rights. They need a zealous advocate to fight for them, and that’s what my role will be. I feel that minorities suffer more for their crimes, and I want to help stop that trend. I want to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Patricia Bradwell, a deputy public defender and Mercedes’s former supervising attorney with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, urged Mercedes to apply to every Public Defender’s Office in Southern California. “She believed in me, and her support really meant a lot. Being chosen for this clerkship proves that with dedication and hard work, you can do anything. That is the lesson I got out of my whole law school experience.”

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