Rachael Arora '11

As a public defender, Rachael Arora '11 spends her week days defending and representing indigent individuals who are charged with crimes in Charleston County. Rachael works with her clients to reach the best outcome – a skill she says she learned while pursuing her religious studies and urban studies degrees.


What is your typical day at work?

Each day is different, which is why my job is great! During court weeks, I am in court doing a status conference or guilty pleas. When I am not in court, I am meeting clients in jail or in my office. Some days I am able to spend the whole day doing legal research for a certain case or reviewing case evidence.

Why did you decide to attend the College of Charleston and pursue a double major in religious students and urban studies?

I loved the atmosphere at CofC. I came to visit after I was accepted and it just seemed like the perfect fit. The classes were still small but I felt like I could always meet a new person on campus.

I took a religious studies class as an elective my freshmen year and loved the class. The religious studies courses taught me how to empathize with other people and just think differently than how I had been raised. The religious studies professors were probably the most genuine and caring professors. I always felt like I could go to them for help.

I was interested in policy and urban development so that’s how I ended up as an urban studies major, as well. I was interested in criminal justice and how different policies affected our criminal justice system. Urban studies fit this interest perfectly.

How did your degree help prepare you in your current roll? Any specific College experiences stand out as having prepared you?

The religious studies courses definitely taught me how to research and write well, which really prepared me for law school. They also taught me how to relate to other people. I need to be able to connect with my clients in my current role.

I interned at the U.S. Attorney’s Office while in college for my urban planning externship. I worked on criminal and civil cases. After college, I worked as a full time legal assistant with the U.S. Attorney’s Office – an environment that taught me a lot about the justice system.

What do you like most about your job- do you have a specific case you worked on that you enjoyed the most? If so, can you explain?

I love my clients! Our office emphasizes holistic defense which means that, in addition to  helping clients with their current charge, we can help find them housing or get them into a rehab center if they have a drug problem. One of my favorite days on the job was when I got a call from a client who told me about his job and how well he had been doing after we had helped him get back on his feet.

What drew you to your organization?

I wanted to go to law school to be a public defender. I think public service is important. Everyone deserves a lawyer and to have someone stand with them on their worst day without judgement. I think public defenders serve an important role in the justice system.

The Charleston County office has great attorneys. I wanted to work with this office, specifically, because of the veteran attorneys.

What advice would you offer students interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?

The best advice I would give is to intern as early as you can. Hands on training is the best kind of training. Although school is stressful, it’s important to make room for an internship.