Virginia criminal defense attorney D.P. Hultman wrote this post. She is a former intern in the Arlington Public Defender's Office and former employee at the Danville Public Defender's Office. Ms. Hultman received her bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia and received her JD from George Mason University.
Danville, I found out, is located about an hour south of Lynchburg and an hour north of Greensboro, right on the North Carolina border. I started my career as an Assistant Public Defender during the winter of 2008. The first few weeks were a blur of organizing my living quarters at home and on-the-job training at work. I observed my coworkers in court and took copious amount of notes. Then my first day in court as a Virginia criminal defense attorney finally arrived. I was nervous, but excited and ready.
I had three misdemeanor cases and four bond motions in General District Court that day. It was probably one of the most memorable days in court for me. By mid-day, I was already exhausted, but the adrenaline kept me going and I learned some very important lessons, such as (a) ask your client if they have made any statements - it's nice to know before trial, and (b) if your client's version of events is different from their own witnesses, the case is not going to go well. Thankfully, we all survived that day and my first day in court was officially done.
I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients one day. He asked why I did what I did. What made me wake up every morning excited to go to work? The only answer I had for him was client contact. I love meeting new people. I genuinely enjoyed talking to my clients and a day where I can meet clients, talk to them, and help them through the legal system is a great day for me.
I admit, legal analysis comes a very close second. Legal research and writing were not my favorite topics in school, but in the real world, it meant something. Once they started to make a difference, motions and briefs were no longer something that had to be written grudgingly, but something that was written willingly, and with purpose.
My caseload increased exponentially and the charges got more serious as the months went by, but the positives outweighed the negatives. Meeting new people was always exciting and fun and by the time I left Danville, I left confident that being a Virginia criminal defense lawyer was the right choice for me.