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Abel Rodriguez L’11 on how Penn Law’s clinical legal studies helped shape his career

July 17, 2013



My name is Abel Rodriguez and I graduated from Penn Law in 2011.

I have a split position. I work at the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia half time and I work at Nationalities Service Center half time.

I think what I enjoy most about my job is just being able to interact with clients, being responsible for my own case load. And so the cases that I work on, I work on from beginning to end and the clients that I have, they are my clients. And so I really enjoy having client interaction and helping clients achieve their goals.

The Toll Public Interest Center has been incredibly helpful while I was a student and even since I have graduated. Particularly things like the Fellowship Bootcamp, I actually started working on a Penn Fellowship after I graduated from Penn. And so they were incredibly helpful in helping me prepare for that and also the Career Planning and Placement Office was incredibly helpful in terms of doing practice interviews, mock interviews, looking over resumes, I mean just really helping me prepare for applying for jobs and for preparing for applying for a fellowship.

Some of my best experiences here were my Clinical experiences. I did both the Transnational Legal Clinic, which I did for a year, and the Criminal Defense Clinic, which I did for a semester, and those two clinics are really what led me to do the work that I am doing now, which is at the intersection of criminal and immigration law. I just had a fantastic experience at both of those clinics.

For current law students, my advice would be to get as much practical experience as you can while you are in law school. Do as many externships, clinics, you know, whatever you can to get a hands on experience. Don’t shy away from going into public interest, it’s very rewarding, great work, it’s absolutely do-able in terms of financially and you know, in terms of having work life balance.

Transcript edited for length