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Justin Romano 2011
Talk to Justin Romano for five minutes and it becomes clear how passionate he is about his work. Eye always on the prize, everything he has done in his career at Pace has led toward one thing – working hard to improve the criminal justice system from the inside.
“You go to the South Bronx and it’s another world.” Criminal justice here, he says, is “a big machine” that moves ever so slowly and not always justly. “You see a line of defendants waiting to get into court and they process these people all day, every day. Makes you think about it – what you can do to make reforms. The system definitely needs change.”
Prior to attending Pace Law School, Justin worked for a New York City councilman to observe how to craft laws and create a better system. Having seen how the machine lives and breathes from the outside, Justin headed to law school to learn how to change it from within. Once here, he couldn’t pass on the opportunity to get “out of school and into a courtroom.”
He enrolled in the Barbara Salken Criminal Justice Clinic to learn the fundamentals of taking a case from beginning to end in a real-world setting. The program allows him to interview clients, go to arraignment, and “care for our clients.”
“It’s real life lawyering,” he says of his clinic work. “The best thing about our clinic is that without us, most of the clients would summarily plead guilty because Legal Aid is too swamped with cases. We let them know we’re behind them if they want to take it to trial because most of the time they shouldn’t plead guilty; they have good cases.”
Thus far, Justin has successfully handled two trespass cases with all charges dismissed. “I think now I’m well prepared,” he says with an eye toward his law career. “Pace Law School has good opportunities to get out of the classroom. The best thing is getting in front of people and doing it for real.”