Legal Aid Society

A Day In The Life

Ensuring Access to Representation With Our Pro Bono Partners

Just like many college students at the end of their college careers, Lara Samet Buchwald had to make the hard decision of what she wanted to do after graduation. It was her prior summer experience as an investigative intern with The Legal Aid Society that helped her choose a post-collegiate path.

Lara shadowed a criminal defense attorney in court and aided our investigators in their crucial role of compiling the evidence related to our clients’ cases. After weeks of informative and inspiring work throughout the city alongside our staff, her mind was made up: no matter which area of law she ultimately ended up practicing, she would always find the time to volunteer.

Twenty years later, as a partner at Davis Polk, she remains true to promise. She finds gratification in serving her clients at her firm but stays deeply connected to The Legal Aid Society through pro bono work and a seat on our board. 

Giving back was the reason I got into law in the first place, and now I’m able to use the resources I have at Davis Polk to help with criminal defense matters.

Lara spent years on a task force alongside fellow board members and Legal Aid leadership that advocated for caseload caps and greater funding and staff at a time when our criminal defense attorneys were spread too thin.

“There were just too many cases and not enough lawyers, and we had to figure out how to fix it,” she says.

Still drawing on her formative experience as a summer intern, Lara is eager to connect aspiring law students and new associates to Legal Aid so they too can give even more meaning to their work. 

“If you know what you want to do as a lawyer to help people, Legal Aid does it. And if you don’t, Legal Aid is structured to deal with today’s problems and future problems that New York faces.” 

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