Tom Koglman Goes from Police Officer to PLAP Student Attorney

The Latest from HLS Clinical Programs 2013-07-01

PLAP student attorney Tom Koglman

Each summer, the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) hires several full-time legal interns. Tom Koglman writes about why he chose to work at PLAP this summer.

“I was a police officer for almost twelve years before I came to Harvard Law School, so some people were surprised that I would want to spend my 1L summer representing prison inmates. I believe that the two roles are complementary, though. As a police officer, I was sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, and as a student attorney with PLAP, I am defending the constitutionally granted rights of inmates. If the goal is justice and equality for all under the law, then I don’t see a contradiction. I’ve been inside plenty of jails and prisons before, but stepping in through the front door and meeting with an inmate as an ally is a completely new experience. I joined PLAP so that I could add more depth to my understanding of the criminal justice system, view it from a different perspective, and have an opportunity to challenge my preconceptions. Working with PLAP will make me a better advocate for my clients, provide a service to people who desperately need help, and give me a more balanced understanding of the law.”

Note: This post was adapted from the PLAP newsletter.