As I eagerly await the birth of my first child (due to make her debut in the next 4-6 weeks), I often day dream about what life would be like if she followed in my foot steps and became a member of the public defender community. In my head, I see her objecting loudly in a courtroom (like I used to do), or helping other public defenders tackle an issue on a conference call (like I do now), and I feel excited about the possibility that she might one day take up the public defenders’ call.
Day dreams aside, my real hope for my daughter is that regardless of what she decides to do, that she carries with her the public defender spirit.
Public defense is not just about being a litigator, an advocate, or even a lawyer. Public defense is about rushing to help those who need it the most, even when it’s not the most convenient, easiest, or popular thing to do, like the lawyers who flooded airports in the wake of President Trump’s now stayed travel ban. It’s about continuing to seek the truth, even in the face of incredible obstacles, like the ongoing battle over the use of snitches in Orange County.  It’s about looking beyond over simplistic characteristics of a person, and seeing them for who they really are, like Sister Helen Prejean has done with those on death row. The public defender spirit is about protecting the vulnerable from the powerful, however unfavorable the odds.
Public defenders and those that support them are more than the sum of their parts. When thinking about the type of work they do, I hope they realize their good deeds go beyond the motions they file, the not guilty verdicts they help achieve, or the laws they help change. It is their spirit and ongoing commitment to justice for all that makes public defenders who they are.
Whether my daughter grows up to be a lawyer like me, a drummer like my husband, or something completely different, by surrounding her with people who care, I know she’ll always be a public defender at heart.