Jenna Wrae Long
Aspiring prosecutor Jenna Wrae Long ’15 believes today’s intense scrutiny of law enforcement and the justice system is creating a momentous opportunity for systemic reform.
“The solution will have to start within the government,” says Long, who relishes a challenge. “District attorneys are in an incredible position to make change.”
Born into a military family that traveled frequently, Long was exposed early to the United States’ vast cultural diversity and she developed a fierce passion for public service. Double majoring in law and policy and economics at Dickinson College, she was drawn both to prosecution and public defense. As an undergraduate summer intern at Georgetown Law School’s Criminal Justice Clinic, she helped defend clients facing misdemeanor charges.
At Columbia Law School—her first and only choice—Long has participated in a variety of hands-on clinics and externships while maintaining outstanding academic achievement, earning Kent Scholar status in her second year. She externed with the domestic violence bureau of the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and did a federal court externship as a law clerk for Judge Pamela K. Chen of the Eastern District of New York. A member of the Human Rights Law Review, Long served as executive managing director of the 10th edition of A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual and worked at Morningside Heights Legal Services as a member of the Mass Incarceration Clinic. She also taught and coordinated the mock trial curriculum for the Law School’s student-run High School Law Institute.
Most meaningful of all, Long says, has been working closely with the “phenomenal” Professor Elora Mukherjee—director of the Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic—by advocating for immigrants detained at facilities in New Jersey. First one of Mukherjee’s students, and then a teaching assistant, Long says “working with Professor Mukherjee has been a defining experience for my career path and she is the kind of advocate I aspire to be.”
The summer after her first year, Long worked at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the Hardcore Gang Division in Compton. She spent the next summer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. After graduation, she will serve as an assistant district attorney at the New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney’s Office.
“Being a great prosecutor isn’t just about winning cases, but reaching a just outcome and getting down to the truth,” Long says. “Beyond guilt or innocence, what’s best for society?”