Learning the law with the Georgia Public Defender Council Appellate Division

Aarin Miles in the Class of December 2017 is the first to be featured this season in a series of profiles on Elon Law students whose summer internships offer them new insights and knowledge into the legal profession. 

Even before law school, when Aarin Miles studied psychology at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, it was easy for her to identify weaknesses in the justice system and opportunities to improve access to legal services for all people – not just those who could afford a lawyer.

Miles aspires to a seat on the federal bench after starting her career in either criminal or public interest law. Now, less than six months from her Elon Law graduation, the Durham native is honing her legal knowledge through summer work with the Georgia Public Defender Council Appellate Division.

Active with the Women’s Law Association, the Black Law Students Association and the Innocence Project – among other activities in law school – Miles is the first student to be featured in a series of forthcoming summer employment profiles that showcase experiential learning opportunities for Elon Law students.

The following conversation has been lightly edited.

Tell me about the type of legal assignments you are completing this summer and the way in which your work is helping others.
I am an intern at the Georgia Public Defender Council Appellate Division. I work on reading trial transcripts and creating digests to spot issues to raise on appeal. I also write briefs for the Court of Appeals, and motions for new trials to be argued in Superior Court.

What led you to this opportunity in Georgia and how does it complement your interest in the law?
I found this work through a classmate. She knows of my interest in public interest law and criminal law, so she suggested I apply. This opportunity will help me become a great attorney; I spot issues that occurred at the trial level, and I can implement changes to prevent those concerns once I become a trial attorney.

How did your previous residency-in-practice with the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office prepare you for your approach to this summer work? My residency helped me grow comfortable in court and to understand evidence issues. At my current internship, using knowledge from my residency helps identify issues I might not be able to spot without that experience. 

What are you learning about yourself as a result of your work with the Georgia Public Defender Council that wouldn’t have been possible in a classroom setting?
I’ve learned that I learn quick on my feet, and that I have a love for litigating and being in front of the court. I have also learned how to read through trial transcripts and spot major evidence and ineffective counsel issues.

Is this opportunity changing the way you view the legal profession or altering your future plans?
It hasn’t changed what I want to do in the future but has rather solidified them. I know more than ever that I want to go into social justice and public interest work. 

Describe how the Office of Career & Student Development assisted you in securing summer employment.
Jennifer Mencarini helped review my resume used with the internship application.

What would you like to share with other students about this internship and the skills you’ve developed because of it?
Doing an internship is the best way to get practical experience while in law school. My current internship helps me build skills that may not be my strongest – yet I’m getting plenty of practice growing them.


Visit the Office of Career & Student Development for more information on summer and full-time career opportunities.