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Public Interest Law Project

Jessica Hetzel

October 09, 2019

  • Jessica Hetzel

Moab, Utah

I spent almost all of my summer doing important legal research for pending and upcoming lawsuits SUWA had involving the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The research was always related to Utah public lands and included topics involving contested road ownership, wilderness, natural resource management, civil procedure issues, and more. I was able to attend depositions, review court documents, gain early exposure to administrative and environmental law, do actual field work, and network.      

I had never been to Utah before so I felt fortunate to both be chosen by SUWA as a summer clerk and to be given the chance to contribute in a substantive way to such a prominent environmental organization’s goals. One of the best parts of the summer was being able to visit the pristine natural places these attorneys work so hard to protect. Lastly, going into the internship, it was important for me to get a glimpse of what it’s realistically like to be an attorney at an environmental nonprofit. I learned how collaborative all stages of environmental litigation are, how to cope with socio-political obstacles, and how important public involvement is in grass-roots change. It was humbling to be mentored by passionate attorneys that have a wealth of legal knowledge.

I knew that the application process was competitive and more students had applied for a summer stipend than there were funds for, so I felt incredibly honored to be selected as one of the award recipients. Being selected reinforced my desire to serve the community and work in the public interest sector. The stipend also relieved an enormous economic burden I was worried about by working unpaid this past summer. I was able to focus solely on my internship and did not have to get a weekend job like I thought I might have had to. If I had not received this stipend, I may not have even been able to financially afford going to Utah and may have had to rescind my acceptance of the clerk position.

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