January 10, 2024

Morgan Oberman

United States Army Corps of Engineers
Portland, Oregon

Thanks to PILP, I had the opportunity to extern at the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division’s Office of Counsel. The Office advises and represents the Corps on all legal matters, from environmental law to equal employment opportunity law. As a government agency, the Corps acts to benefit the people through the management and administration of the nation’s water resources. One of the primary responsibilities of the Corps isto protect the environment when dealing with the nation’s resources. The Northwestern Division of the Corp manages water resources for the Columbia and Missouri River basins and thus serves the people of this region. I worked on various research projects concerning the protection of the nation’s waters. I learned about the Corps’ duty to protect the nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. My research focused on how the jurisdiction of the Corps was shifting in the wake of recent Supreme Court rulings. I also researched the intersectionality of environmental law and Native American treaty rights in the Missouri River basin. I created a research aid to assist attorneys at the Corps in better understanding tribal nations’ reserved treaty rights and how they impact the Corps’ regulations. My experience creating this tool has led me to develop a deep interest in tribal and international treaty rights that I hope to pursue further in law school.

Receiving the PILP award allowed me to get involved with public interest law work that would have otherwise been unavailable. The award relieved my financial burdens and allowed me to explore environmental public interest law and better understand the government’s perspective on many environmental issues. I am very grateful to PILP and its generous donors who allowed me to expand my experience in public interest law and my legal knowledge and interests.