After working in Portland at the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Katie Doble ’13 was looking for a new look at the legal realm.
]A history major and economics minor, Doble wanted to get real world experience in a vocational setting instead of just reading about the law in textbooks. After wrapping up the internship in Portland, Doble wanted to continue working and the Career Planning Center referred her to local lawyer Christopher Ledwick ’95 of the Ledwick Law Firm, where she has been interning since September.
Ledwick is a criminal lawyer with a practice on Maine Street in Brunswick. He was formerly an assistant hockey coach at Bowdoin, having played on the team during his time at the College. Ledwick is the only employee of the firm, and Doble is currently the only intern.
Given her experience with the Volunteer Lawyers Project, Doble was familiar with pro bono law. She was surprised, however, to learn that pro bono work has its critics, especially among other lawyers.
“When Mr. Ledwick saw I had worked for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, he said, ‘Oh, you’ve been working for the enemy,’” said Doble. “If Mr. Ledwick is representing a client and the plaintiff has a pro bono lawyer, the plaintiff is inclined to draw out the case because he or she is getting free legal representation. Eventually, Mr. Ledwick’s client no longer has the means to pay for his services.”
Despite his joking disparagement of pro bono work, Ledwick volunteers to provide free legal service to local inmates through the Lawyer of the Day program at the County Jail. Doble went along to observe Ledwick meet with 15 inmates for three minutes each to provide counsel, and then he also video conferenced with the West Bath Court to see what could be done for their cases.
Doble has witnessed Ledwick’s interactions with his clients firsthand at both the County Jail and the West Bath District Court, where she takes notes on his firm's cases.
“Mr. Ledwick was trying to figure out what their next course of action would be with the judge, what they would have to pay, and how long they would have to stay in jail,” said Doble.
Doble usually works in the office once a week, on Monday or Wednesday morning.
Doble looks at Ledwick’s cases and discovery material—basic information, evidence, or witness testimony—regarding the case. She then summarizes and reviews the material.
“He’s had me listen to audio recordings from people with wiretaps or watch a video of a policeman pulling over one of his clients, then asked me questions about what happened and what I think of it,” said Doble. “He’s asking for my opinions in order to get a different perspective on the case. It’s all so interesting and doesn’t feel like intern work.”
The internship has also given Doble a more informed understanding of the state's incarceration system. One of Ledwick’s sayings, according to Doble, is “you really want the people in jail to be the people who should be in jail.” He works to ensure that his clients' sentences fit their crimes, and that people are not kept in jail longer than necessary.
“She helped start a crocheting charity while she’s in jail—she’s doing this incredibly cool thing while she’s in prison,” said Doble. “A jail official helped her get the charity started. They had to go through a process of getting plastic crocheting needles because they can’t have metal ones. I’d never seen the personal side of someone who’s in jail before.”
The job is a change from Bowdoin’s academic setting, and Doble said she has enjoyed dedicating her time to a rewarding activity outside of campus.
“The internship is completely unique from my Bowdoin experience,” said Doble. “I haven’t been able to take any law classes because I need all my classes to count toward my major, so the internship has been cool because it has been so different.”
Though her post-graduation plans are not yet finalized, Doble said her internship at Ledwick Law Firm confirmed her interest in law.
“I’m still not sure if I want to go to law school, but this is a stepping stone to see if it’s something that could be in my future,” said Doble.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Doble has attended each of Ledwick's meetings with clients and misrepresented Ledwick's opinion of pro bono law. The online version has been updated to correct for these inaccuracies.