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Public interest stipend supports student work in Public Defender's office

The Public Interest Law Society (PILS) at Elon Law was able to provide Elizabeth Duncan, L’13, with a stipend to support her public interest internship over the summer of 2012.

Elizabeth Duncan, L'13

The annual stipend derives from a fund developed by the PILS over a four-year development campaign, including an annual tennis tournament. Any student employed in a public interest job over the summer is eligible to apply for the stipend.

Ms. Duncan spent her summer as an intern with the High Point Public Defender’s Office in Guilford County. She worked in a seven-attorney office under the supervision of Attorney Rip Fiser, whose practice includes felony cases in both District Court and Superior Court. Duncan attended Mental Health Court hearings with her supervisor and appeared before judges on multiple occasions.

“Since I received my third year practice certification in May, I had the opportunity to appear in court on several occasions as long as I was supervised,” Duncan said. “At the District Court level, I talked to clients about their cases and made bond motions to lower bail. I also represented clients in guilty pleas, in addition to getting charges dismissed for a client who was set for misdemeanor trial. At the Superior Court level, I was also able to talk with clients about their case and to go over their plea transcripts with them when they decided to enter guilty pleas. I represented an average of 3 or 4 clients under supervision each week that we had Superior Court.”

In addition to her court appearances, Duncan frequently visited the local jail where she conducted initial client interviews. She also joined her supervisor in meetings with clients and prosecutors at the District Attorney’s Office to discuss plea negotiations.

“At the High Point Public Defender's Office, I was able to get a good sense of what was required to actually work as a public defender,” Duncan said. “My experience reinforced my commitment to working in the field of criminal law, and I appreciated the numerous opportunities that were provided for me to appear in court and interact with clients."

By Courtney Roller L'13

Philip Craft,
10/23/2012 1:09 PM