Haub Alumni of the Month: Candice Smith '20

Candice Smith graduated from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in 2020. Currently, Candice is an Assistant District Attorney with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I was at a point in my life where I knew that I was not happy with my current situation and that I wanted more for myself. I always wanted to be a lawyer since a young age. I thought I was too old to go back to school and I thought I would never be accepted into any law school, but Haub Law gave me a chance and I started law school at age 30. Haub Law made me feel welcome and reaffirmed that I had made the right decision to take this big step in my life.

What do you remember from your first day of law school?

It didn’t feel real at first. However, I was beginning a new chapter in my life, so I was excited and nervous, but also focused and determined on succeeding.

What significant practical experiences did you have during law school?

During my 1L summer, I interned at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office in their Narcotics Investigations Bureau. There, I was able to assist with investigations, including drafting search warrants and going on raids with the police officers. This experience is what made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in prosecution.

I also worked for the FBI as an Honors Intern. This internship gave me a wonderful experience and also provided me with an opportunity to leave home for the first time in my life and move to DC for a few months.

Who were some of your most memorable professors from your time at Haub Law?

Professor Barry and Professor Crawford. Professor Barry has been supportive of my career path in prosecution beginning in my 1L year. Professor Crawford is extremely caring, passionate about teaching, and is always willing to help.

What is your day-to-day like as an Assistant District Attorney? 

Right now, I am in the Intake and Assessment Bureau. I handle the arrests that are made in Queens County. This consists of interviewing police officers, witnesses and victims, gathering evidence, and drafting the accusatory instrument that goes to court.

Were you always interested in criminal law?

Yes. From a young age, I was exposed to crime in my neighborhood and close to home. I always knew that someday I wanted to be in a position where I could help my community and the victims, and also help the defendants in a way that may address any underlying issues that caused them to commit these crimes. 

How has the pandemic shaped what you do and how you do it?

My role as a prosecutor working in the Intake Bureau means that I still need to report to work every day, regardless of a pandemic, because I know that there is a person sitting in a jail cell waiting to be arraigned and can’t see a judge until we write up the case. So, we try to be mindful, and work diligently to get the defendant processed as quickly as possible.

What is most rewarding about your job?

What I like best about my job is knowing that my work is valued and that the office makes you feel like you are a part of a family. The most rewarding thing is knowing that I am in a position to help make an impact on a person’s life, even if that means securing an order of protection for an abused victim, or not proceeding with charges knowing that a person is innocent.

How did Haub Law help shape your career path?

Haub Law offered me a chance to take multiple criminal law courses and receive a concentration in criminal law. In addition, the hands on practical intern experiences were extremely useful. I utilize the knowledge that I gained from these classes and experiences in my day to day.

Do you have any advice for current students?

Don’t give up! Also, your reputation is everything, so make sure you try and have the best relationships you can with your colleagues, professors, and everyone you come across in life.