This week we talked with Blake Feldman for our profile series Fellow Spotlights. We discussed what was appealing to him about joining the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program, what his best experience has been so far, and what some of Blake’s favorite things about Athens are.
Graduation Date: May 2015
Major or Area of Study: Law School
Hometown: Newton, MS
Community Campus Involvement: President of Public Interest Law Council; Chair of American Constitution Society.
What interested you most about the Spencer Frye Fellowship Program?
My short-term goal after graduation is to serve as an Assistant Public Defender, but my long-term goal is to push for systemic reforms in the criminal justice system. As Georgia has demonstrated in recent years, reforms like those take place in state legislatures, and familiarizing myself with the legislative process will be useful.
What have you learned as a Fellow?
Given that the legislative session is only a few months, it’s easy to assume legislators don’t work as much as people with “real” jobs, but it’s incredible – the amount of information that must be processed to do an informed job. Even for a well-staffed Representative with an interdisciplinary team of interns, there aren’t enough hours in the day.
What are your future goals?
After graduation I plan to sit for the FL or CO bar exam and begin my career as a public defender. I’m currently undecided between accepting an offer with the Colorado State Public Defender and the Office of the Public Defender in Orlando, FL. I don’t like to think much further ahead than that.
What do you love most about Athens?
I think Athens has a unique balance of providing enough to do while maintaining a small town atmosphere.
What’s been the best experience so far?
In the fall I attended a meeting with Spencer and high-ranking officials of the local education system. My primary purpose was to take notes for Spencer to later reference, but I was asked for input a couple of times. The meeting provided insight on how much is in the hands of local and state government, and how important it is to have informed and passionate leaders fill those roles.
Favorite Athens hang-out?
Georgia Theatre rooftop.
Favorite local band/musician?
Whoever is playing on the rooftop.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever traveled?
I spent my first summer of law school in Bratislava, Slovakia. I feel like everyone does Western Europe, and besides, that’s way too expensive for an unpaid internship. Spending a couple months in Central/Eastern Europe was incredible. On the weekends I visited nearby cities, such as Prague, Krakow, Vienna, and Budapest.
Last book you read?
Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson.
What would you list as your top priorities in life?
I want to have a job that gives me more satisfaction than happiness, although both would be nice. I want to maintain the self-awareness to know when to indulge in an occasional, selfish adventure to stave off burnout.
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