Classes most useful to my practice: Clinics have been most useful, because they were practical, real-world experiences in the actual practice of law. For doctrinal courses, criminal procedure and evidence were essential in my practice as a public defender—not that I learned everything I needed to know as an attorney through those classes, but I gained fluency in these areas and an understanding of how these rules develop, how the law changes, what the bright line rules are (to the extent those exist!), and could start to envision what the use of these rules would look like in real-world practice. Plus, asking questions to professors who are experts in these areas (even for a little while after I graduated!) was clutch.
Classes I wish I had taken: Classes that are more widely available at law schools now—like critical race theory, poverty law, etc.—would have been great! Looking back, I think taking Legislation and Statutory Interpretation would have helped in understanding state government and probably could have set some initial groundwork for the times I have advocated in the area of policy.
Rhiannon Hamam is a supervising attorney with Texas Law's Richard and Ginni Mithoff Program. Immediately after graduating from law school, Rhiannon worked as a public defender with the Starr County Regional Public Defender based in Rio Grande City, Texas. She then moved to Austin and worked as appointed criminal defense counsel in private practice, as a mitigation specialist with the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, and as a staff attorney with the Travis County Public Defender’s Office.
At Texas Law, Rhiannon was a cofounder of GRITS, the student-run "Getting Radical in the South" conference. She also served as vice president of administration for the Texas Law chapter of the American Constitution Society, articles editor of the Texas Journal of Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, staff editor of the American Journal of Criminal Law, and Human Rights Scholar with the Rapoport Center. During her 1L year, she volunteered with the Texas Defender Service. As a 2L, she was a project lead for the Mithoff Program’s Expunction Project and volunteered nearly fifty hours with the Program’s Juvenile Lifers Project. As a 3L, she served as a Pro Bono Scholar.
Rhiannon participated in the Actual Innocence Clinic, Capital Punishment Clinic, and the Criminal Defense Clinic, and interned with the Texas Fair Defense Project. The summer after her 1L year, she worked for Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans. The summer after her 2L year, she worked for the Capital Area Private Defender Service in Austin.
- 2015 Whitehurst Public Interest Summer Fellows
- 2015-2016 Mithoff Pro Bono Scholars
- Graduating Law Students Receive Service Awards from Justice Center