Lawyers

From intern to lawyer: Poly grad joins city prosecutor’s office with a mission to help his hometown • Long Beach Post News

Williams began as an intern at City Prosecutor Doug Haubert’s office during the summer of 2015 after graduating from UC Riverside, following a push for more internships across the city from Mayor Robert Garcia.

Williams went on to law school at Western State College of Law, graduating in 2019, and served as a law clerk at both the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office as well as the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office.

“Jericho has changed in many ways, he’s certainly matured as a person, but the legal knowledge that he’s gained by working in our office and the district attorney’s office has really served him well, and I think will serve the city of Long Beach well in the future,” Haubert said.

However, it is the personal and real-life experiences that Williams has that truly make him special, he said.

Jericho Williams, center, smiles after being sworn in as a prosecutor by Senator Lena Gonzalez (left) on July 1, 2021. He is joined by his wife, Malaika, and City Prosecutor Doug Haubert (right), whom Williams began interning for in 2015. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

Williams has spent his whole life in Long Beach, passing through the Long Beach school system and graduating with high honors from Poly High School in 2011, where he was also a wide receiver on the football team.

It was in 10th grade that Williams first started to consider a career in law.

“Truth be told, what actually got me interested in law was a lot of the gang violence in my neighborhood,” said Williams, who grew up mostly around Central Long Beach. “I knew I wanted to get into something to address both the gang violence and homelessness.”

Williams initially wanted to be a defense lawyer, but after beginning his internship in Long Beach, he was introduced to the possibilities of becoming a prosecutor.

Haubert noted that this office provides opportunities not commonly seen in other city prosecutor offices, with an emphasis on offering resources such as mental health counseling or housing.

Witnessing these alternate solutions to crime and poverty propelled Williams into a career of prosecution.

“It is a blessing to be able to—actually be able to—serve the community that I’m from,” said Williams. “The rewarding point is the fact that I am here. I could be anywhere, but Long Beach is where I’m at. And that’s the biggest blessing.”

Jericho Williams fist bumps his wife, Malaika, after being sworn in as a prosecutor on July 1, 2021 in Long Beach. Photo by Tess Kazenoff.

Many of the cases he has observed come from Central and North Long Beach, he said, and his personal ties to the city give him a unique perspective that aided his work.

“I am personally invested. I do want to see homelessness eradicated. I do want to see youthful offenders turn their lives around and go to more of a positive path,” said Williams.

As the swearing-in ceremony began, a crowd of around 25 family members and coworkers eagerly gathered around in front of City Hall, as three flags stood before them.

“Every time I talk to him, I learn a little bit more about Long Beach, and a little more about his experience in the schools he went to, and where he is now and why that’s so special,” said Haubert to the group. “But I also hear from him about his vision for the future. And I know Jericho sees a criminal justice system different tomorrow than it is today.”

In attendance was also state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, who offered Williams words of congratulations and then swore him in. Williams grew up in the area that Gonzalez previously represented as a City Council member.

“I’m so proud of you,” said Gonzalez. “You are a product of Long Beach. You grew up in the Washington neighborhood, which is so cool. You went to Poly High School, and now look at you.”

She said that the beginning of her career was not unlike Williams’, pointing out that they both started as interns. Gonzalez also applauded Williams for successfully passing the California State Bar, which received cheers from the audience.

It was actually the Bar exam that was the most difficult part of his journey, Williams told the Long Beach Post following the ceremony.

But through the challenges of pursuing a career in law, Williams urged anyone curious or interested in making a change to never give up.

“There’s a lot of examinations, a lot of challenges that you have to get through to become a lawyer. And you may have to take a couple L’s, you may have to fail a few times. And that’s fine. Do not give up. Just be graceful with yourself, be patient with yourself. And all of those things fall into place.”

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