For the Defense

Emily New '16

Emily New '16 begins her legal career at the Orleans Public Defenders.

Growing up with a mother who worked as a police officer, Emily New ’16 got a kind of homeschooling in the criminal justice system. Her sympathies, though, lay with criminal defendants, and her desire to advocate for their rights led New to law school. This fall she will join the Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans as a state attorney.

“I want to do public defense to fight for the victims of society, the people who we label as criminals and write off without a second thought,” says New.

A Florida native, New supported herself during college by working full-time jobs at grocery stores, at summer camps, and in a factory. After three years teaching English and working on community development in the Peace Corps in the country of Georgia, she returned to the US to pursue a law degree. At NYU Law, New combined her coursework with out-of-the-classroom activities such as representing students in New York City public high schools who had been suspended, teaching legal writing in a women’s prison, and advocating for individuals serving long prison sentences who had been denied parole.

As a law clerk at Orleans Public Defenders after her first year of law school, New worked on a number of cases in which defendants faced life sentences. She saw firsthand the consequences of limited public defender resources for those facing serious charges.

“At times the Constitution seems like it’s suspended there,” she says.

New remains positive in the face of immense challenges, however. “I don’t think I’ve ever sat down at a table with a person and not seen hope and light inside them,” she says. “That’s what I’m fighting for: to bring that light and hope to other people’s attention.” 

Posted September 2, 2016