Criminal Defense Experience

The following is taken from an interview with Virginia defense attorney Andrew Lindsey as she discusses the various ways that she received legal experience and how it has helped her throughout her career. To discuss your case with Ms. Nerino, call and schedule a free consultation today.

Preparation For Becoming An Attorney

I think that all of my experiences have played into who I am as a criminal defense attorney. However, my time in my third year of law school at the criminal defense clinic and my time as a fellow with the Alexandria Public Defender’s Office were particularly influential in giving me the tools that I needed to be a successful advocate for my clients.

My third year of law school, I was fortunate enough to practice as a law student attorney with my third-year practice certificate. I worked as a student defense attorney under the supervision of a barred Virginia attorney—in this case, my clinic directors. As part of my third-year program, I represented around ten clients, and the clinic’s first felony client in every stage of their cases from beginning to end. Because I had the supervision of both my clinic director and another experienced criminal defense attorney, I really learned I needed to know to be successful, and the most effective advocate for my clients. I learned the ins and outs of Virginia law, courtroom procedures, and, in a lot of cases, post-conviction appeal methods and options. That experience had a huge impact on my development.

After I graduated law school, I then worked as an attorney fellow with the Alexandria Public Defender’s Office. In that capacity, I worked as an assistant to many of the public defenders. I did research, wrote motions and appeals and was able to take cases myself because I was a barred attorney at the time. With the supervision and help of the public defenders, I learned the way that effective advocacy works in a courtroom and how important zealous advocacy is to clients.

I was therefore incredibly fortunate to have two years before I started my professional career as an independent attorney, armed with some of the best training and methods that are available to young lawyers coming out of law school. Great opportunities were available to me and I took advantage of them. And I think those experiences really helped me become a more knowledgeable and effective criminal defense attorney than many of the individuals who graduated when I did.

How These Experiences Have Helped

I think that watching and working alongside some of the best criminal defense minds in Virginia, absorbing as much information as possible and then using these methods and techniques in my own practice really made me the attorney that I am. You cannot underestimate the power of watching an extremely experienced attorney do something the right way and using their experience to inform your own practice. You also can’t underestimate the force of sitting with attorneys who are truly passionate and really care about their clients and watching them advocate for these clients in such an effective way. That has had a huge impact on my own approach to my clients and cases.

Some of the most zealous and talented defense attorneys that I have ever met worked at the Alexandria Public Defender’s Office when I was a fellow there. They showed me that every case is significant, no matter the charge, and that no fact is too small to investigate thoroughly. Those were important lessons that I bring into my own practice.

Other Important Factors

Additionally, my experiences in multiple courtrooms and jurisdictions, in front of many different judges and prosecutors, has made me well-versed in the nuances of the Virginia criminal justice system. The fact that I’m able to draw from my experiences in many different counties to help advise my clients of the specific quirks of each county allow me to create effective defense, tailored to the specific county in which my client is charged. This has a big impact on the outcome of a case, and I am extremely grateful to my clinic, the public defender’s office, and the other attorneys in Northern Virginia for giving me the ability to do this.

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