June 23, 2021

#024: Patrice Sulton - Criminal Justice Reformer, Civil Rights Lawyer, Legislative Drafter, and Non-Profit Founder


In this episode I speak with Patrice Sulton, the Founder and Executive Director of the DC Justice Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to researching, organizing, and advocating for large-scale change to Washington D.C.'s criminal justice system. Patrice not only has experience advocating for changes to the law. She has extensive experience actually rewriting these laws having served as a Senior Attorney Advisor to DC's Criminal Code Reform Commission, an independent agency within the District of Columbia government established to comprehensively revise the District’s Criminal Code. She also has experience representing clients in court and teaching both in the community and at the George Washington University School of Law when she has won a number of awards for her teaching. 

In our conversation we talk about the process of drafting criminal laws and how to most effectively advocate for progressive changes to those laws, the importance of diversity and representation in the criminal justice non-profit community, how to balance the need to do individual representation and systems change work, the power of arguing from first principles, how to succeed as a young lawyer or law student in a new legal area, creating a "discipline of rest" to prevent burn out, and the ways that all lawyers--regardless of their primary role--can support organizations that serve their communities.  

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