Regina Fountain ’19
For Regina Fountain, public defense is a calling. “On co-op I learned what it meant to be a public defender,” she says. “I wanted to be in the fight, in the hustle of criminal defense.”
And she's doing just that now as a public defender in Colorado. “I’m very anti-incarceration,” says Regina. “There are so many systemic factors working against people who rely on public defenders. They are often caught doing something that most people in the world have done — and a lot of that has to do with poverty, being a person of color, being queer or trans, and usually a combination of those factors.”
From her co-ops doing defense and innocence work to her current job, Regina celebrates every win, no matter the size. “The mini-victories are important because so much is on the line at every stage of the process for my clients. For example, bail matters because they don’t have to sit in jail while awaiting trial just because they can’t afford it. Getting a juror dismissed means one fewer person working against my client. Sometimes, my client appreciates that I’m willing to go to battle for them because there’s no other system in our society where that happens.”
While she may not win every time, knowing she is using her legal skills to help another person motivates her to keep fighting. “We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done,” she says.
Innocence Project New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana
For her first co-op, Regina wanted to explore innocence work, which involved legal research and writing related to long-term efforts to exonerate life-sentenced prisoners. She also developed investigation skills for witness interviews and news-media research.
- How To Get It Done Conference
- Multicultural Law Students Association
- Queer Caucus (co-chair for two years)
- Reach(OUT) LGBTQA+ Career Conference
- Student Bar Association (chair for one quarter)
Public Defender Agency, Anchorage, Alaska
Like many other Northeastern Law students, Regina used her co-ops not only for different legal experiences but also to see other parts of the world. In Anchorage, she was in court two times a day on her own, representing clients in bail hearings, plea agreements for misdemeanors and for Rule 5 hearings, which require the state to indict by a deadline when felony charges are involved.
Prisoners’ Rights Clinic
In this clinic, Regina learned how to frame a client’s case to satisfy the Massachusetts Parole Board. In drafting a parole plan for her client, she used the legal research and writing skills she had honed in her first year of law school, while also gathering significant amounts of information from the client and making decisions about how and what to use to make a persuasive case for parole.
Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, Golden, Colorado
During this co-op, Regina’s supervisor trusted her to take a full misdemeanor caseload. She honed a broad range of skills, including jury selection, pre-trial hearings, writing and arguing motions to suppress, and handling discovery and pre-trial process. While in Alaska, Regina’s caseload was focused on one-time hearings; in Colorado, she established a relationship with her clients and took some of them through the complete court process.
Legal Skills in Social Context (LSSC)
As a lawyering fellow for LSSC, Regina worked with Professor Stephanie Hartung on strategy and plans for writing assignments related to criminal law for first-year students as well as a project in which first-year students acted as a “law office” undertaking research for the New England Innocence Project.
Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein, Boston, Massachusetts
For her final co-op, Regina worked in a private defense firm. While her co-ops with public defenders required fast-paced responses, working in a private defense firm allowed her more time to help craft long-term strategies. Working in a private firm setting also exposed her to how billing works, and to the duty and obligation to be candid with clients about the costs involved.