This summer I worked as a remote law clerk for the Defenders of Wildlife headquarter office in Washington, D.C. The highlight of my summer was the opportunity to work for an organization I had dreamed of working for. I was supervised by one of the senior staff attorneys for Defenders of Wildlife, and I also had the opportunity to work with some of the organization’s staff in the Northwest. Working with such an energizing team of lawyers was a dream. As a law clerk, I assisted with legal cases from all around the country concerning conservation of native plants and animals. My focus was wildlife law, and I gained experience researching different topics such as the Endangered Species Act and administrative law.
In addition to the legal experience I gained from my internship, I was also able to gain experience doing policy work. During my internship, I had the opportunity to draft and deliver testimony to support conservation of Oregon’s wolves at an Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission rulemaking hearing. This allowed me to obtain experience advocating for political change in the field of wildlife law. Although it was intimidating to testify before the Chair and Commission Members for the first time, I now feel prepared and energized to testify in support of other conservation initiatives – especially since Salem is so close!
Before law school, I idolized Defenders of Wildlife and its impact on wildlife conservation efforts. During that time, I waitressed and bartended to subsidize my income while I worked unpaid wildlife research jobs. If I had not received a PILP scholarship this summer, I would have had to relive that experience, which would have forced me into working only part-time for Defenders of Wildlife. When the opportunity to testify in Salem arose abruptly, I would not have had the flexibility to attend the rulemaking meeting, and I would have missed out on the experience of testifying altogether. Instead, receiving a PILP scholarship allowed me to invest the maximum amount of time into developing professional experience from an amazing nonprofit. Because I was a remote intern, I was also able to take a class on international wildlife law at Lewis and Clark, which is only offered during the summer.
The PILP stipend allowed me to gain public interest experience that would not have been possible otherwise. I am so grateful that I was given that opportunity, and I will do anything I can to make sure that possibility exists for future students who are passionate about public interest work.