30 Years in Public Service Keeps Alumnus Passionate About Career


When a lawyer is committed to advocating for others who are marginalized in our legal system, it often leads to a lifelong career of public service. Allen Popper, JD ’85, is a public defender who has served The Legal Aid Society in New York City for thirty years. After a career of advocacy, Popper is still passionate about his job.

Allen Popper, JD '85

“I still—after thirty years—love going to court. I love fighting the fight and representing people who are wrongfully accused. There’s nothing better than that,” said Popper. “Each day on the job as a public defender presents new issues and challenges, which keeps the job exciting even for a thirty-year veteran."

When asked what he loves most about his job, Popper replied, “It’s the dedication of my colleagues. That’s what I love about my job.”

Although Popper graduated from Miami Law in 1985, he still remembers the professors who inspired his career path. Popper noted that his interests in constitutional and criminal law were sparked by the wonderful faculty at Miami Law.

While he does not miss the dreaded “cold-calling” that law professors use to teach students, he gained confidence and mental agility in the classroom which served him well in the courtroom. Because of that focused training, Popper now stands before judges and audiences with confidence in the arguments that he presents.

Popper offered some advice to students who are interested in working for organizations similar to The Legal Aid Society: participate in clinical and internship experiences. In a sea of thousands of impressive applications, “work experience distinguishes a candidate.”

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