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Parneet Chauhan '10 became enamored with criminal justice after taking a class on a whim at Northern Virginia Community College. She subsequently transferred to American University to earn a degree in justice, a field of study that combines criminal justice with social psychology.
"At American, I worked with sex-offenders in a psychotherapy group," said Chauhan. "The goal of this therapy group was to prevent recidivism."
Ultimately, Chauhan decided to attend Albany Law to learn about criminal law, and to continue to gain experience in her field through a series of legal internships ranging from Georgia to California.
"My first legal internship was at the Georgia Appellate Practice and Educational Resource Center in Atlanta," she said. "I had two clients I visited regularly in prison and who I still keep in contact with. My experience here was what led me to be passionate about criminal defense work. What I saw here and what I learned are experiences I will never forget."
Chauhan spent the past summer in San Francisco with the California Appellate Project, which, like her previous internship, is "also an office that works with death row inmates," she explained. "However, here the job of the attorneys in the office is to supervise and oversee those in California who are directly representing death row inmates. We made sure that attorneys were following procedure and facilitated trial preparation when necessary."
She continued, "Comparing what I did in Atlanta to what I did in San Francisco, I realized that ultimately I would like to work at an office like the California Appellate Project, but for the time being, I need to be in the trenches - directly working on cases. There is a lack of dedicated representation out there, and I want to be part of the change. I want to be able to go back to one of my clients and tell them some good news."
Since returning to Albany for her third year of law school, she has been interning with the Federal Defender for the Northern District of New York.
Chauhan, who grew up in Springfield, Va., is also passionate about contributing to student life at Albany Law, as well as supporting new students when they first start law school. She is president of the Student Ambassador Program and a member of both the Black Law Students Association and the Latin American Law Students Association.
"I initially became a student ambassador because when I first got to Albany Law, I wasn't sure if there would be anyone here who could relate to me," she said. "I wanted to make sure that other students would feel like they had the proper support when they came here."
She adds, "It's always good to network and get to know lots of different types of people."