When John Hughes ’14 applied to Columbia Law School more than three years ago, he wrote in his personal statement that he wanted to be a prosecutor in New York City. Influenced by the murder of a childhood friend, Hughes was inspired to become an attorney who works on behalf of victims of violent crimes.
This fall, Hughes will finally achieve this aspiration when he takes on his new role as a lawyer at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
“That was my number one goal, and it’s really gratifying to know that I’ve accomplished it,” Hughes says. “Many of the experiences I had at Columbia really helped me get there.”
Because of his interest in criminal law, Hughes focused on opportunities at the Law School that would strengthen his skills inside a courtroom. He assisted in federal criminal prosecutions as a summer law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, his hometown, following his first year at the Law School. Hughes also participated in the Externship on the Federal Government in Washington, D.C., analyzing criminal policy issues for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Hughes had the opportunity to take on a prosecutorial role on a local level as well. He dedicated a semester prosecuting domestic violence crimes for the Queens District Attorney’s Office, often appearing in court for cases.
“The atmosphere and the office culture of prosecutors’ offices was something that really clicked for me and I am really excited to have the opportunity to devote my career to the field.”
When Hughes joins the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office later this year, it won’t be his first time—he spent the summer after his second year of Law School there. He says he is looking forward to prosecuting criminal cases into action on a daily basis, and he is excited to fulfill the goal that was inspired by the death of his childhood friend.
“When my friend’s killer was brought to justice, it really demonstrated for me the kind of good that law enforcement can do if it’s done right and it’s done well,” Hughes says.