Rachel Mosser recently graduated from Campbell University with a Law Degree. She passed the bar this summer in North Carolina and is eager to get her career in law underway.
Rachel’s whole life she has wanted to be a prosecutor. Working at the district attorney’s office recently Rachel also interned with the North Carolina Department of Justice the summer after her first year in law school in the Capital Litigation and Habeas Corpus Division, and that also solidified that prosecution was the right path for her. Always having a passion for prosecution from that point on, Rachel tailored her schedule to taking courses that would help her further her education in prosecution. These have included a plea bargaining course and the North Carolina Prosecution Advocacy course taught by Professor Overton-Spahos, who is the Chief Resource Prosecutor for the Conference of District Attorney’s in North Carolina.
Rachel Mosser also had other internships and experiences that confirmed to her that she would prefer to see a case firsthand, rather than appellate review or postconviction work. For Rachel, it will be more meaningful to be the first person to work on a case from the beginning.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I have a passion for criminal justice as well as criminal justice reform. I have always been the type of person that is attracted to documentaries, like Making a Murderer and The Staircase, programs where you are able to witness the prosecution of an individual and you are able to put yourself in their shoes. But I am more interested in the true crime aspect versus the TV shows that give a false façade of how the criminal justice system works. I have always enjoyed true crime documentaries and stories.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I was working at the DA’s office, I would begin my day in traffic court, making sure that we were helping those individuals who could have their charges dismissed or even reduced, and then making sure that other individuals were aware of the next steps for them in the process or what they needed to take care of in order to get their licenses back. Then I would proceed upstairs to District Court. There are two court sessions, one at 9:00 am and another at 2:00 pm. The days that I would work the morning session, I would go from 9:00 to 1:00.
I would approach the prosecutor’s desk and sit down with my mentor, my supervisor of the day. There are many assistant DA’s that cycle through and that provides you with an opportunity to see the different styles of prosecution and how other people handle things, which is one of the best aspects of working in an internship. You get different opinions on how to handle things in an appropriate manner.
We would review the calendar for the day which lists the individuals that are present in the courtroom and what case they are present for. At that time, I would stand and call a calendar which is basically taking roll and seeing who is present, whether they have an attorney present, and if they are ready to negotiate a plea with us or if they want to go to trial. Then the schedule is organized based on how the individuals responded in the calendar call. Then we start going through the work, which could mean calling attorneys to talk about their client’s case, dismissing charges, plea deal negotiations, or preparing for trial.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The biggest thing that has impacted my life was the Restorative Justice Clinic that I took part in during my final semester. It really presented a different way to look at prosecution. We are looking for justice, but we really need to consider what justice is. Justice is not necessarily just some type of legal punishment or punitive jail time, but it can be something that involves the victim. It can include victim/offender dialogue. I can include some counseling, rather than just punishment. I think those ideas are necessary. We do have some of the highest prison populations in the world, and we need to look at different types of justice programs.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that definitely excites me is the push for criminal justice reform. We have individuals that are incarcerated for lesser offenses that don’t necessarily need to be in prison. There are a lot of innocent individuals that have been released, and there are people who have made sure those individuals have received assistance that they need. There are many times when incarceration is not the best option, but rather social service programs will be more effective. We need to continue to do that and make sure that we are constantly reforming the criminal justice system, constantly double checking ourselves and making sure that we are not making mistakes that could be detrimental to an individual’s life and livelihood.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My OCD makes me more productive. A lot of people don’t want to admit they have these tendencies, but I always feel like it’s a positive for me. It allows me to be more organized and take time to really understand subject matter or a problem in front of me. I spent a lot of time gathering the information and making sure I’m well prepared for what is ahead of me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Control what you can. Whatever you can’t control, you just need to allow it to happen. Because you can’t always plan for everything that is going to happen.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Not everyone agrees that spending the financial resources for your bar courses and study materials is worthwhile. I know some people have passed without using them to save money, but to me it was a worthwhile investment.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always follow a schedule with a detailed time breakdown as well as a to-do list. I always have a plan in my head and a plan on paper of what I am trying to accomplish that day. This helps to keep me on track.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
At the end of the day I take some time to journal about my day. What happened today? What was influential that I accomplished or did not accomplish? What was something that was great about today or was today not so great. I reflect back on what the day was. It is helping my mental health but also helping me keep track of eating habits or physical issues, like if I had a headache or some other challenge. It also helps me in the regards to my career to see what I need to work on to be successful.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I applied for law school and was placed on a waitlist at some of the schools I chose, it was a hard thing for me to handle. Law school was always one of my biggest goals, and that tore me apart inside a little bit. My LSAT score and my academic record was good, but I did not realize how competitive it would be. However, it did help me to find Campbell and find the place where I would be successful.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I wish there was a podcast on bar prep. It would have been helpful to me and give me the chance to review bar prep material while doing other things and not feel so stuck to my computer for the online courses.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently spent $100 on getting my law degree framed properly. I worked so hard for this, and I’m really proud. I want to put them on display.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I will always recommend BARBRI for bar prep. After you take practice tests, it tells you in real time what areas you need to focus on more.
There is a really great app called eMoods that tracks your daily moods, your food, medications, and so forth. It also helps me out with my journaling and to reflect on my day.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One book that everyone should read is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It has recently been made into a movie, but the book in my opinion is so impactful. It gives you an inside perspective on what Bryan Stevenson was doing to help change the community and the criminal justice system.
What is your favorite quote?
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg
● Be sure you have bar prep resources. A bar prep podcast would be really helpful.
● Criminal justice reform needs to be evaluated. We need to use what we’ve learned and be better for the future.
● Scheduling and organization helps me to be successful.