Minnesota Law

Summer 2023
For the Record

Summer Experiences: Julian Roby, 3L

Julian Roby, 3L, is from St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from Rhodes College with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Sociology. He earned a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan. This summer, he worked for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) remotely but was based out of the New Orleans Office. This upcoming year, he will return as a student instructor for the RISE program and continue serving as the student director for the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers.

Julian Roby, 3L

 How did you connect with or find this summer opportunity? 

I have been seeking to connect with the Southern Poverty Law Center for quite some time dating back to my time in undergrad. When I learned that there was an opportunity to intern with them over the summer through the Career Center, I was excited about the opportunity and immediately set out to make sure that I would be able to take advantage of this chance.  


How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree? 

I have been fortunate enough to work on various projects during my time with SPLC that touch on the criminal justice system, educational system, public health programs, and the federal immigration system. These experiences will allow me to be an asset wherever I land after law school because I am able to adapt and have been exposed to a wide variety of types of law. 


Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

Fortunately, there is no typical day, and I like that a lot. Each day when I am able to open my inbox I am excited about what new task and learning opportunity awaits me. While I am placed in the Criminal Justice Reform practice group, and based out of the New Orleans office; I have worked on projects that deal with children being held in formerly death row prisons, incarcerated individuals being exposed to water contamination in Florida prisons, and incarcerated folks right to telephone use to name a few. Each of these tasks may require meeting with clients, reviewing EPA guidelines, or legal research on the 8th Amendment. 


What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising or particularly compelling during this summer position?

The biggest lesson learned is to take care of yourself and make sure that you take some time in order to be the best advocate possible for your clients. I think because we’re working on really heavy important stuff it can be easy to take these burdens home with us, but that is not good for you nor the people you are representing. 


What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience so far?

One of my biggest takeaways this summer has been that we have a long way to go when it comes to criminal justice reform and progress can be very slow at times but it is happening. Also, the best strategy for tackling these complex legal problems is having a collaborative approach because chances are you are overlooking something, and having great partners can help clean up those areas that may be overlooked. 


How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

While I didn’t expect to be working primarily remotely, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am immensely grateful to the SPLC for allowing me to grow as an attorney in training and be able to work on some great, impactful, and important projects. 


What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?

I think you should be open and really look for an organization that aligns with your values. The SPLC was initially started to combat white supremacist groups in the South specifically for victims of violence by the KKK. “The SPLC is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people.” Since its founding, SPLC has expanded beyond hate and extremism and is doing some great work around criminal justice reform, voting rights, economic justice, children's rights, immigrant justice, and LGBT issues. 


How are you spending your free time this summer?

While I am working remotely and am based out of the New Orleans office, I was able to stay with my family in Atlanta and enjoyed spending time with them. I have gotten to go to some Atlanta Braves games as well. 


What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall? 

I will continue to grow as a lawyer in training and build on the skill set that I have gained during my time with SPLC. I am also looking forward to seeing my friends, and classmates and learning about their summer experiences.