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Soreti Teshome

2015 Pozen New Leaders Scholar and 2017 Pozen Intern Soreti Teshome has always known that she wants to be a lawyer. A fourth-year Public Policy and Race and Ethnic Studies major, as well as a Truman Scholar, Soreti’s UChicago coursework and extracurricular activities focus on the criminal justice system. Previous internships have given Soreti criminal justice insights through the lens of policy and advocacy, but when granted the Pozen Center Human Rights Internship, she knew she needed hands-on experience in the legal system to confirm her interest in public defense.

As an investigative intern at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), Soreti was able to do just that. Her day-to-day work included interviewing potential case witnesses, reviewing video surveillance footage, and serving subpoenas, with the larger goal of supporting investigators and attorneys as they develop defense cases. Soreti’s tenure at BDS confirmed for her that she wants to work on the public defense side of the criminal justice system, allowing her to promote access to due process rights.

Soreti clearly connects the dots between her summer internship and her coursework. This fall she took Youth Law and Policy (taught by Pozen Intern alumnus Andrew Hammond), where the class discussed the divergent ways behaviors can be criminalized in different communities. At BDS, Soreti witnessed this first-hand, where probable cause for searching a car was often nothing more than a tinted window and jaywalking is criminalized very differently depending on one’s skin color.

For Soreti, the Human Rights Internship Program confirmed her desire to become a lawyer, but also taught her which other tools she will need to be successful, including the languages she speaks. “I saw how important Spanish is to criminal defense work, especially as the immigration system and the criminal justice system are becoming increasingly intertwined.”

What’s next for Soreti? After graduation in June, she is heading to the East Coast. “This summer, I saw what made people impactful. Before law school, I want to take the time to build a framework for myself to be as successful as possible—to become the best representative and advocate I can be.”

Donate here by December 15 to support the 2018 Human Rights Internship Cohort.