Class of 2023: JD Grad to Address Criminal Justice Reform, Humanitarian Issues
“My goal is to be an advocate and companion for those that have been wronged by our system and outcasted by society.”
Name: Cassidy Vernon
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Undergraduate Institution: University of Arizona
Awards, Student Groups, Clinics, Journals, etc.: Justice Advocates Coalition (JAC), Law Womens Association, Program in Criminal Law and Policy Fellow, Public Interest Initiatives Committee Student Representative, Immigration Law Students Association, National Lawyers Guild, Civil Rights Restoration Clinic, Criminal Defense Clinic, Federal Criminal Defense Clinic
What initially inspired you to attend law school, and has that changed over the course of your studies?
I initially chose law school because of the events happening in the world around me. I first remember in high school being upset with the social climate and issues happening around the United States. It seemed to me that the best way to change the issues I was seeing and experiencing was to become involved in the processes leading to those issues. That’s when law school came to me, and I have been inspired ever since to continue my legal career. Now with the information I’ve learned in law school and the experiences I have had in clinics and internships my inspiration has only increased.
Why did you choose University of Arizona Law?
Being from Tucson I wanted to continue a career in my community after law school and remaining in Tucson seemed to be the best way to serve my community while progressing in my legal career.
How do you think you have changed from your 1L year to now?
Throughout my time in law school, I’ve had the opportunity to really come into myself. During my time here I have experienced a lot of changes and growth. 1L year generally challenges you and since then I have become more confident in my academic abilities and who I am as a person. I know what I want, who I am, have specific goals in mind and I know my ability I have to achieve those goals. Law school has made me more self-aware, capable and confident in my future career.
What will you miss most about your time at University of Arizona Law?
I’ll miss the opportunity to always be learning new information and having the ability to choose classes that interest me, learning from amazing professors, and being among my peers. However, I know this will continue in every aspect of my future career and so I am also eager to have new challenges and new learning experiences as an attorney.
What was your favorite law school experience or extracurricular activity, and why?
My favorite experiences in law school were all the clinics. I started my 2L year in the Civil Rights Restoration Clinic and it was an extremely formative experience.I always thought I wanted to do public interest work, but this solidified that idea. This was the first time I was able to represent an individual in court and work with Professor Andy Silverman who remains a constant inspiration for me as I begin my legal career. The feeling of helping my very first client successfully set aside their prior convictions and have their civil rights restored is a feeling I will never forget as they expressed to me how this would forever change their life. I continued my clinical experience in the criminal defense clinic both federally and in the county. In both experiences I again was reminded of how it feels to help those in the system and be there for them in a time that feels unknown and scary. These experiences gave me the opportunity to apply the information you learn in classes and throughout law school in a real environment that is inspiring and exciting, and I could not recommend them enough.
What are you most proud of about your time while at University of Arizona Law?
I think I have been most proud of the community here at Arizona law from the student body to the professors, I have found endless support and acceptance in both my personal and academic life. As we all know law school can feel all-consuming and overwhelming and the support system here among students and the willingness of professors to engage with students on a personal level to uplift them and provide them with opportunities has made all the difference.
Are there any particular issues or causes within the legal system that you are passionate about or want to address in your career?
Foremost, I want to address criminal justice reform. Criminal justice reform was the reason I came to law school. My goal is to be an advocate and companion for those that have been wronged by our system and outcasted by society. From there I hope my career may lead into non-profit work within criminal justice reform and wrongful conviction work.
What are your future career plans?
Throughout my career, I hope to work for non-profits centering on criminal justice reform and humanitarian issues.
Looking back on your law school experience, what would you have done differently or what advice would you give to your younger self?
I would have been even more involved. The law school experience is so unique because the community is so small and for the most part many of us are experiencing many of the same things. That being said I would have involved myself with more student events and organizations because it’s a community unlike any other. As I am now looking to the future and leaving law school, I am thankful for the events and organizations that I did take part in, cherish all of the experiences, and only wish I would have done more.
Message for your fellow Class of 2023:
Embrace all the changes we have in store for us in the next few months as we go into our careers and make the most of every opportunity offered to us!