“I came to law school specifically to study environmental law,” Duggan says. “Being accepted into this program validated my decision to come to here.”
The Honors Program is the only way entry-level attorneys can join the DoJ. According to its website, the department selects its employees based on academic achievement, participation in a journal or moot court competitions, legal aid and clinical experience, summer or part-time legal employment, and other factors — specialized academic studies or academic degrees, work experience, and extracurricular activities — related to the work of the department.
“Duke is small and if you really have a passion for something, you can own it,” says Duggan, who led the Environmental Law Society for two years, served as student liaison to the Energy Subcommittee of Duke’s university-wide Sustainability Committee, and is currently the editor in chief of the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum.
In addition, Duggan has participated in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic for the past year, gaining experience he believes was critical to his acceptance into the program.
“In my interview, they asked questions about the cases I am working on. They wanted to discuss the arguments in our legal filings,” he says. “Being able to talk about that with them as peers really helped. “
Michelle Nowlin, supervising attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, encouraged Duggan to apply for the program and says it is a great fit for him.
“In talking with Patrick about what his career goals were, it seemed that he would be able to gain the most comprehensive experience, best training, and broadest view of the issues in a way that was consistent with his values at a place like the DOJ,” she says.
“Patrick has a curious mind and demonstrates a lot of initiative,” Nowlin continues. “He is eager to learn and is quite responsive to feedback and direction, but by the same token, he is not afraid to ask questions and challenge conventional wisdom. I think those attributes will serve him very well as an advocate for the protection of the environment and enforcer of the nation’s environmental laws.”