A would-be lawyer is about to swap life at a corporate law firm for one working with prisoners on death row after securing an internship with pro bono charity Amicus.
Former law student Duncan Jones, who is currently working as a paralegal at Norwich law firm Howes Percival, will in March take up a post at Amicus’ Office of Capital Defence Counsel in Jackson, Mississippi, to help make sure death row prisoners get adequate legal representation.
The 22-year old said he hopes the work he does on the four-month placement will help prisoners contained at the Mississippi State Penitentiary get a fair trial.
He said: “This internship is not necessarily about trying to exonerate convicts but trying to give them the best defence possible. Attorneys like those working at the Office of Capital Defence Counsel are vital to providing the representation that most people facing the death penalty who wouldn’t otherwise get.”
The charity aims to help provide legal representation for those awaiting capital trial and punishment in the US and raise awareness of potential abuses of their rights.
Each year, it places 15 to 20 legally qualified interns with capital defence attorneys and other organisations throughout US states that have the death penalty.
Jones, who studied at Essex University, said he has already been made to feel welcome by his American host, whom he spoke to over the telephone recently.
“When he realised that I was from England and an Amicus volunteer he was really excited. He was telling me that he’d already had really great experiences from the previous volunteers and that he couldn’t wait for me to come over,” he said.
Jones has also had to prepare for the trip by taking a crash course on US law, which was provided by Amicus.
He added: “I’m a passionate supporter of human rights and I see this as a really worthwhile way of getting relevant experience and progressing my career. This could be a life-changing experience for me and I hope that it’s going to be equally helpful for the people I will be working with.”