Katie Denson ’15 Discovers Fulfillment in Career as Prosecutor
March 17, 2016
Aside from brief dreams of playing professional football, Katie Denson ‘15 can hardly remember a time when she did not want to be a prosecutor.
“When I was about four or five years old, I told my dad I wanted to play for the Chargers like Junior Seau. My father, with a 5’10” frame, likely realized that no child of his would ever be a football star and commented, ‘That’s probably not going to happen, maybe you should be an attorney.’ His offhand comment stuck with me and I was always drawn to the legal field,” recalls the Thomas Jefferson School of Law graduate, who recently landed a job as a Deputy District Attorney for Tulare County.
Denson’s post-graduation journey has reinforced her passion for being a prosecutor. She spent time volunteering in the San Diego City Attorney’s office with a full case load before securing her current role.
One of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of her chosen career, says Denson, is helping others find justice.
“San Diego is a leader in developing and exploring the use of alternative courts for low level offenders,” Denson explains. “As prosecutors, we get to evaluate each case and determine what is the right form of justice for each defendant…It’s incredibly rewarding to know that we’re doing our best to rehabilitate offenders so that once their sanctions are complete, they hopefully reenter society posing a smaller risk than before committing a crime.”
There were several key opportunities and programs at Thomas Jefferson Law that Denson says played a significant role in shaping her as an attorney and preparing her for a career as a prosecutor. Participating in the school’s Mock Trial program, for example, allowed Denson to present arguments in front of large groups. It’s an experience she urges other students to engage in, regardless of their ultimate career goals and aspirations.
“Even if you’re not going into trial work, the time management skills, the presentation skills, and the experiences of working through legal issues as a team are invaluable,” Denson says.
She also found much camaraderie and guidance in the Alumni Association and regular attendance of its meetings and events. Talking with alumni allowed Denson to obtain critical career advice from practicing attorneys, people who she says have dealt with the same struggles and who are dedicated to assisting their Thomas Jefferson Law peers.
When it comes to her own advice for Thomas Jefferson Law students and recent graduates, Denson says pursue what you are most passionate about.
“It is up to us as Thomas Jefferson Law students and alumni to show the legal community that Thomas Jefferson Law produces quality attorneys and members of the legal community. The quality of each of our reputations reflects on all of us,” Denson concludes.