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Public Interest Law Project

Kristen Monsell

October 10, 2011

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Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife (Washington D.C.)

PILP’s summer stipend program made it possible for me to work as a law clerk for Defenders of Wildlife (DOW) at their national headquarters in Washington, D.C. DOW is a non-profit public interest organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. DOW’s approach integrates enforcement, collaboration, education and media outreach in order to protect and restore America’s native wildlife, safeguard habitat and mobilize the public.

Working with the knowledgeable attorneys at DOW enhanced my knowledge of wildlife law and policy while improving my research, writing, and analytical skills. I drafted complaints and standing declarations, composed comments on proposed critical habitat designations, wrote legal memorandum and performed legal research in assistance of litigation. In addition, the attorneys were wonderful resources that offered practical advice regarding how to be an effective public interest attorney.

A week before I started at DOW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. While the decision recognized that global warming threatens polar bears with extinction, the listing included a special rule negating many of the protections that typically accompanies such a listing. I spent the majority of my summer working on a variety of issues related to this listing.

Living and working in our nation’s capital afforded me wonderful opportunities outside of the office that complemented my legal work. I attended Supreme Court decision days, Senate committee hearings, Congressional briefings and numerous speeches, including Al Gore’s “Challenge to Repower America.”

None of this would have been possible without the assistance and dedication of PILP.

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