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Public Interest Law Project

Derek Mills

June 01, 2013

US EPA Colorado

I spent my second summer of law school working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 8, Office of Regional Counsel in Denver, Colorado. This experience was extremely educational, as it provided me with an opportunity to conduct actual legal work for a federal regulatory agency. The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. As a student of environmental and natural resource law, I often find myself reading judicial opinions concerning EPA action while speculating on the inner-workings of the agency’s decision-making process. This summer, I got to witness first-ha how that process operates, thus providing me with key institutional knowledge that I could obtain nowhere else. I assisted EPA staff attorneys by writing a plethora of legal memoranda on a host of issues directly related to my field of study, including but not limited to, the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and Indian law. I sat in on high-level briefings concerning controversial decisions and, led client counseling sessions of my own, wherein I assessed legal risk and potential litigation positions regarding proposed agency actions. No matter where my legal career takes me, I will always consider this past summer one of my most valuable learning experiences. The staff was tremendous and I even got to explore the great state of Colorado a bit. 

Due to current budgetary restraints, EPA Region 8 was not able to provide compensation for any summer law clerks this year. Thankfully, the Public Interest Law Project (PILP) at Lewis & Clark Law School awarded me a stipend to facilitate my move to Denver and off-set my expenses for room and board for the entire summer. Thanks PILP!