Alumna Actively Fighting for Social Change through Work at Miami-Dade Public Defender

BY:  
CREATED:  

Devon Frampton, JD ’17

Devon Frampton, JD ’17

While some prospective law students may major in Political Science or English, Devon Frampton, JD ’17, arrived at Miami Law with a performing arts background. She attended an arts high school for theater and singing and then went on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she double majored in performing arts and business. Frampton enrolled in a law class during her last year of her undergraduate career, which ultimately led her to Miami Law.

Hands-On Experiences Solidified a Path to Public Interest Work

Frampton started Miami Law intending to pursue a career in Entertainment and Sports Law, but during her 1L year she realized something important— she hated contracts. With contracts law so heavily incorporated in entertainment law, Frampton knew she needed to find a different area of interest. She wrapped up her 1L year feeling a bit lost and was not yet sure what type of lawyer she wanted to be. During her 1L summer, she interned with Miami Law’s Health Rights Clinic.

“The Health Rights Clinic allowed me to work with clients directly and handle my own caseload, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In dealing with clients and helping them solve their problems, you change people’s lives.”

Frampton later enrolled in the Litigation Skills Program and joined the Trial Team. “I realized in Lit Skills that what we learned in law school, along with my performance skills, paired perfectly with litigating. I felt very comfortable stepping into the role of lawyer and almost playing the part of the litigator.”

“The experience that put everything together for me was Trial Team,” she shared, “but what got me there was Lit Skills.” By the end of law school, Frampton had a very clear idea of what her goal was—she wanted to be a litigator.

Trying Out Different Opportunities Along the Way

Frampton was involved in several other experiential opportunities throughout law school. “Interning and working at a number of different places helped me figure out what I didn’t want to do.”

She did an externship at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and while she knew she did not want to purse that area of law, she had great experiences going into federal court and participating in hearings. Frampton also worked at a small private law firm, focusing on constitutional law defense cases. From this experience she realized quickly that she did not want to practice civil law.

“I don’t regret any of those jobs because they showed me what I didn’t want and made it really clear when I found something that fit what I did want to do. There is no certain track that is the right track. Don’t listen to what people tell you that you have to do during law school.”

Working at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office

Frampton did an externship through Miami Law at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office and was later hired as an Assistant Public Defender. She says the Public Defender’s Office felt like a new home. Frampton started out working on misdemeanors and now works in the Felony Unit on Felony B cases, which include second-degree and some first-degree felonies. She is able to work on a daily basis with very seasoned attorneys and has had some amazing women mentors. “The knowledge base you can tap into is amazing,” she says. Frampton learns and improves by watching these experienced attorneys at trial and observing how they make decisions in the moment.

Frampton enjoys the autonomy of being a public defender and describes it as both freeing and stressful. “Miami Law sets you up really nicely to go into any job and be more prepared than others because you are getting real-life training in a lot of ways.” Moving forward, Frampton would love to become certified to work on capital cases.

Important Work at a Time of Social Change

Frampton’s role has become even more crucial at a time when communities across the nation are mobilizing and demanding social change.

“With this whole social movement, it’s been really rewarding to be on the front lines for people who have been arrested for protesting and curfew violations. We get to handle bond hearings and argue the unconstitutionality of the charges. It’s nice when you can be in an environment to fight for social change that is literally happening on the ground in your community.”

Frampton offers this advice to current law students: “Intern, intern, intern. If you’re interested in the work, you won’t know 100% until you get your hands dirty and do it.” She also reminds students to take their internship experiences with a grain of salt, “even if your internship isn’t perfect, if the job and the work is what you want to do –go for it!”

Read about the HOPE Public Interest Resource Center