Student Spotlight

UHLC 2L Dougherty, a former U.S. Marine, investigated criminal law with Galveston County DA's Office

University of Houston Law Center student Thomas Dougherty.

University of Houston Law Center student Thomas Dougherty.

Aug. 30, 2018 — Second-year University of Houston Law Center student Thomas Dougherty learned about criminal law in the real world this summer as a public interest fellow with the Galveston County District Attorney's Office.

Dougherty worked alongside assistant district attorneys to sharpen his skills in administrative work, trial preparation and trial advocacy.

"They gave me a lot more responsibility than I expected," Dougherty said. "I had the opportunity to draft motions, to complete discovery, to speak with victims and witnesses in preparation for trial, as well as a bunch of other tasks. I also competed in a mock trial during the fellowship."

Dougherty said watching district attorneys serve justice has been an eye-opening experience.

"Prosecutors have a huge responsibility," he said. "They have to prioritize what the victims want. But, at the same time, they are responsible for justice for the defendant and for the state."

Dougherty served in the Marine Corps for five years before going to law school. He did not always plan to attend law school, but his interest in criminal law prompted him to seek the fellowship at the Galveston County DA's Office.

"I joined the Marines right out of high school," Dougherty said. "I enlisted for five years and I originally thought I was going to retire out of the Marine Corps."

Dougherty's wife and two children shifted his career focus and made him consider law school as an option. As a Houston native, he set his sights on the Law Center for his legal education.

"While I am very interested in criminal law, I don't know what I want to focus on yet," Dougherty said. "I really want exposure to a lot of legal specialties and the law center provides

that opportunity. The Law Center offers a wide variety of classes geared toward civil litigation, criminal law, and transactional work.

"One class I really enjoyed was Professor Gina Warren's property class. The material is interesting and her teaching style is really engaging. My experience at the Law Center has been very positive."