Many law stu­dents gain a plethora of the­o­ret­ical knowl­edge, but only a few have the oppor­tu­nity to work on real cases.

Desiree Mitchell, a third-​​year stu­dent in North­eastern University’s School of Law, is one of the few, having already rep­re­sented clients in both civil and crim­inal cases. Her case­work, she said, has prompted tan­gible change.

In the class­room you’re given a hypo­thet­ical sit­u­a­tion where it might be really easy to figure out all the facts,” Mitchell explained. “But it’s never really a text­book case.”

Mitchell’s body of work prompted the Amer­ican Asso­ci­a­tion for Justice’s Women for Jus­tice Edu­ca­tion Fund to award the bud­ding lawyer the Mike Eidson Schol­ar­ship. Named in honor of a past AAJ pres­i­dent, the $5000 award rec­og­nizes female law stu­dents who pro­mote jus­tice “for the injured, the accused, and those whose rights are jeopardized.”

Mitchell and a stu­dent from Rut­gers School of Law received the award during the organization’s annual con­ven­tion, which took place last week in Chicago.

In her time at North­eastern, Mitchell has fought for coal miners in Appalachia; defended those accused of crim­inal offenses in Boston; and helped the Suf­folk County Dis­trict Attorney’s office pros­e­cute child abuse cases, one of which she argued in court as the second-​​seat attorney.

Such expe­ri­ences, she said, could never have been dupli­cated in the classroom.

There’s def­i­nitely a lot of moving parts once you’re actu­ally on a case,” Mitchell said. “You’re moving out of the class­room — out of the law office, even — and into the real world.”

Later this month, Mitchell will begin a co-​​op with the Mass­a­chu­setts Teachers Asso­ci­a­tion, where she will focus on edu­ca­tion policy for the state’s public teachers’ union.

She said she enrolled at North­eastern based on its rep­u­ta­tion as a leader in public interest law, which focuses on serving people in under­served or dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties. After grad­u­ating next spring, Mitchell plans to pursue a career in crim­inal defense.

It’s a field that’s a lot less dry than many other areas of the law,” she said. “You’re working in a new area, on new cases, every day.”