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“Opportunities here are like no other,” said 3L Reena Mehta when discussing her experience at Albany Law School. The Pro Bono Scholar has known since high school that she wanted to be a lawyer; now she will be starting her career as an Assistant District Attorney at the Bronx District Attorney’s office after graduation.
Mehta is one of eight Pro Bono Scholars graduating this year. They are able to take the New York State bar exam the February before graduation, then spend the spring semester working full-time at a government or public interest organization of their choice.
Mehta recalls with detail one of her favorite moments of law school, when she received her offer to work at the Bronx D.A.’s office. She drove down to the Bronx on the last day of finals, and the interview lasted only a few minutes. Later that day the D.A. called Mehta herself and offered Mehta a position as an Assistant District Attorney.
“Once I hung up I was practically in tears,” Mehta said. “I was so shocked that I had heard back so soon and so excited because this was the office I had been wanting to go to. I couldn’t have done it without all the help from professors and the staff in the career center. In that moment it felt like everything I did in law school led me to that job. It’s an amazing feeling when everything comes together.”
Mehta has interned at the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Albany County D.A., Bethlehem Town Court, and the Federal Court in Albany. She called her time interning in Saratoga as part of the Domestic Violence Prosecution Hybrid Clinic one of best experiences she had as a law student. There she came face to face with some difficult and sobering rape and predatory sexual assault cases.
“In that moment it felt like everything I did in law school led
me to that job,”
Mehta said of being hired at the Bronx D.A.'s office. “It’s an amazing feeling when everything comes together.”
“I’m usually very composed, but sometimes you’re hit with a case you can barely stomach,” said Mehta. “These experiences really proved to me that I am doing what l’m meant to be doing, I care, and I can actually do something to help those who need it most.”
Along with her long list of internship experiences, Mehta is also currently president of the Health Law Society on campus. The Health Law Society typically organizes panels and discussions around health laws and policies. She has also participated in moot court Senior Prize Trials, where students compete against one another in front of real judges, arguing civil and criminal cases.
“What separates Albany Law School from other law schools is that it’s so hands-on. The professors really want to help, they look out for you,” said Mehta.
She discussed how several professors supported her throughout her three years.
“Professor [Joe] Connors really helped me learn how to converse with clients, while [Adjunct] Professor [Tom] Spina really helped me with moral support. He managed to lift me up when I felt less than confident. Professor [Mary] Lynch taught me the essential skills needed to be a great lawyer and was a constant source of support and encouragement.
"I consider them more than teachers. I think of them as my friends now and I know I’ll stay in touch with them.”
Occasionally, Mehta said she pinches herself.
“I still can’t believe within a few months, I’m going to be an Assistant District Attorney in New York City.”