June 01, 2009

Nate Hausman

Center for Food Safety, San Francisco, CA

Center for Food Safety, San Francisco, CA

Thanks to PILP, I worked at the Center for Food Safety (CFS) in San Francisco this past summer.  A nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental and public interest advocacy, CFS challenges harmful food production technologies and promotes sustainable alternatives such as organic. CFS uses multiple strategies to pursue its goals, which exposed me to a variety of legal skills and tools. I conducted research, wrote internal memos, composed comments, and drafted Freedom of Information Act requests. In the process, I learned about legal strategy, experienced the inner workings of a public interest law organization, and improved my legal writing skills. I came away with a deeper understanding of administrative and environmental law, as well as the regulation of and risks associated with industrial food production system. In addition, I forged valuable connections with dedicated and talented attorneys in the field.

Because CFS has a relatively small legal team, I worked very closely with staff attorneys. One project I particularly enjoyed involved challenging a proposal for the extensive field trial of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. In exploring the various legal issues involved with the proposal, I communicated with other attorneys and activists in the larger community to organize a coordinated approach to our campaign. In conjunction with CFS attorneys, I helped develop and assess the strength of our legal arguments and eventually helped draft comments challenging the adequacy of the proposal’s environmental assessment. Now, with my second year of law school underway, I already see the benefits a hands-on legal experience like this one in preparing me to enter the field of environmental law.

In part, I came to law school to acquire the legal skills to advocate effectively for a healthy, sustainable, and just food system. CFS was a perfect fit for a summer internship for me, one that would not have been possible for me without a PILP stipend. I am grateful to PILP and all its volunteers for enabling me to have such a rewarding experience!