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Public Interest Law Project

Morgan Wyenn

October 10, 2011

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Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Receiving a PILP stipend allowed me to spend the summer between my first and second years of law school as a legal intern at the Los Angeles office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This position proved to be fantastic opportunity to contribute my recently gained legal skills to the protection of public health and the environment. Additionally, this summer offered invaluable exposure to the field of environmental law.

Working with several supervising attorneys, I took on both long and short term projects. Because NRDC utilizes litigation, advocacy, and media tools to address environmental issues, my work at NRDC ranged from researching and writing legal memoranda to contributing to media strategies. One such project was producing an internal memorandum addressing the question of whether the South Coast Air Quality Management District can impose regulations on railroad stations within its geographical jurisdiction that seek to limit the air quality related health risks resulting from train air emissions. I primarily examined the extent of the federal preemption established by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act’s jurisdiction over the regulation of the rail industry. Another project I enjoyed working on was drafting the environmental and social justice arguments that can be used in opposition to the building of a proposed toll road that would cut through a State Park in Southern California. I also contributed to NRDC’s annual report on nationwide coastal water quality: Testing the Waters. This report serves to inform beachgoers of the health risks of exposure to pollutants and harmful bacteria at beaches across the country, while also documenting local and state efforts and failures to protect public health in issuing beach closure advisories and warnings. In addition to these and other projects, I also enjoyed editing, proofing, and cite checking briefs prior to submission to court.

In focusing on specific tasks and projects, I was able to collaborate and learn from NRDC attorneys. Interacting with attorneys that are leaders in the field of environmental law provided not only project related experiences, but mentorship and guidance in how to successfully enjoy a career serving the public interest through environmental law.

The PILP stipend allowed me to gain immeasurable experience that will shape and propel my career in the legal field for years to come.


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