June 01, 2012

Paige Spence

Southern Environmental Law Center, Chapel Hill, NC

Receiving a PILP stipend helped me supplement a partially funded summer internship with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I was excited to have been offered the summer position, but worried about travel expenses and other costs.  Thanks to PILP, I was able to focus on the experience of working at SELC, rather than worrying about financing the experience.

I grew up in the South and have long known that SELC is the leading nonprofit environmental defense environmental defense  law firm in the region.  I was happy to accept a summer position in one of SELC’s two North Carolina offices.  My supervising attorney worked in the office’s Transportation section, and I was pleasantly surprised what an interesting and diverse area this was to work in.  For transportation cases, SELC represented organizations such as riverkeepers in litigation challenging environmental impacts from proposed new highways and other transportation projects. 

I was offered the opportunity to assist in the many stages of SELC’s litigation, from drafting a complaint to performing research for an en banc rehearing after winning a 4th Circuit appellate case.  I was able to put to the test my legal research and writing skills, and improved my ability to apply environmental statutes to specific cases.  Because of my summer experience working with SELC, I am more familiar with researching cases and applying statutes and regulations to  NEPA and CWA cases.  I was able to become very comfortable with federal court procedure, and also comfortable navigating the substantive complex environmental laws.  I also became familiar with state laws relating to zoning and property rights.