Raymond Leggett IV ’22 has finished his class work at Albany Law School, but he is making sure he gets a full view of the legal system—and changes it needs—before graduation and, ideally, before he gets a job as a trial attorney and appellate advocate.
He points to his time in the Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic within The Justice Center at Albany Law School as being the most formative.
The routine and rigor of working in the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office was not only a great opportunity to learn courtroom skills and client counseling techniques, but a perfect introduction to the day-to-day, fast paced action an assistant district attorney can face. His supervisor provided Leggett the opportunity to work on cases “outside his comfort zone,” such as organizing discovery for a preliminary hearing on a gun crime.
“I really wanted to have a full, well-rounded experience and there can be a tendency in some other practice areas to see prosecutors as an us-versus-them dichotomy. I want to break through and understand why that characterization is, as it is,” he said. “Over the course of the semester, I learned so much regarding the criminal justice system that you don't have access to from the other side.”
“It was fantastic preparation for me to look at a week, see what is going on, and make a plan,” he said. “That aspect of professional and personal responsibility, that you start to develop in the workplace, you need to really carry that with you, wherever you go, especially in terms of being an attorney and particularly for a prosecutorial agency.”
Leggett lived outside of Detroit, Michigan until coming to Albany Law School. After earning his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio he worked for a year at the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit. He began learning about public interest, social justice, economic justice—and just how much work needs to be done.
He then came to Albany Law School to make a difference.
“Some say progressive prosecutor is an oxymoron, but I don't think so,” he said. “I want to believe that a form of the best criminal defense can come from a well-organized and high-functioning prosecutorial agency. It doesn't need to just come from one side. Being able to really verify that with my own eyes, I see that there are so many ways to protect people through civil litigation, through arbitration and more.”
In addition to his clinical work, he’s served as President of the National Lawyers Guild, Albany Law Chapter; a research fellow for the Center for Global Governance and Emerging Law; a research assistant for Professor Ray Brescia; and participated in the collaborative COVID Response Corps partnership with Legal Aid of Northeastern New York which mobilized in the summer of 2020.
“If you're interested in criminal law and you really want that experience in law school I don't think there's any better place than the DVPH clinic,” he said. “The mentorship and gaining experiential experience is absolutely pivotal to a well-rounded understanding of the practice of law prior to practicing law.”