Kelley Hodge, L’96, was elected interim District Attorney of Philadelphia on July 20. Four days later, she was sworn in. She’ll serve in this interim position until January 2018 – a short amount of time to fit in a good deal of work. But she’s well prepared for the job.  
 
Hodge came to Richmond Law from her native Pennsylvania in 1993, not intending to pursue a career in public service. She majored in foreign affairs and Spanish at the University of Virginia, and was considering work in the international arena. But a turning point came in the form of Richmond Law’s Youth Advocacy Clinic, where she discovered a passion for both criminal and juvenile justice. “That probably was the most pivotal experience that I’ve had that put me on this trajectory for where I am,” said Hodge. Post-graduation, she found a position at the Richmond Public Defender’s Office, where she spent six years.
 
“If there’s a framework for who I am as a lawyer, that experience was my framework,” said Hodge. From the way the office engaged in complex cases, to the way she and her colleagues interacted with one another, her experience as a public defender shaped her as a lawyer. “I was able to see very seasoned attorneys handle very serious matters,” said Hodge.
 
Hodge moved to Philadelphia in 2004 to work in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She started where all attorneys start in that office – in the Municipal Court Unit, which sees 70,000 cases a year – and went on to train and supervise new Assistant District Attorneys.
 
Following her time in the District Attorney’s Office, Hodge worked for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency before she went on to the University of Virginia to work on Title IX issues in the wake of the Rolling Stone controversy. “It was a lot of emotion and feelings that existed at the time that I arrived,” said Hodge. “What I brought to the table that made this transition a bit more natural than maybe it would seem on paper is that I had done public defender work in Virginia, [and] I had prosecuted. What you need to be an effective Title IX coordinator is … the ability to be balanced.”  
 
Most recently, Hodge was in private practice at Elliott Greenleaf when she threw her hat in the ring for the District Attorney’s position. Her predecessor, Seth Williams, was forced to resign from the position, and Philadelphia entered into a city-wide election. Hodge was hired from a pool of 14 candidates, and is the first African American female District Attorney in Philadelphia. When she received the call that she got the job, the first question that was put to her was, “How soon can you get sworn in?”
 
Hodge’s busy case load includes managing local issues impacting cities and communities across the country, including the opioid epidemic and gun access. “I’m very proud of the work that we’re doing,” said Hodge. “When people are victimized by crime, we in this office advocate for them.” There’s also the issues of hate crimes and hate violence, community engagement, and police-involved shootings. The question for Hodge? “How many of those can I check off the box before I leave here in January?”

Advice from DA Hodge

We asked Kelley Hodge what advice she might give a law student at the start of a career.

“The one thing I learned pretty early on [is that] your reputation is all you have. You carry it with you for good or for bad. Be aware of the steps you take and the decisions you make and the bridges you potentially could burn if you’re not considerate. …
 
I presented bad or difficult news every day to a lot of people. …. Those things shape you into who you are. They remember that, they remember how you make them feel, and that really develops your reputation. You have to try to maintain it, pretty much at all costs.”