PUBLISHED:September 07, 2016

Postcard from the practice: Students hone legal skills through summer work in environmental law and policy

Megan Ault '18 Megan Ault '18 at Grotto Falls in Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Mont.

Megan Ault '18 spent her 1L summer in Bozeman, Mont., working with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Ault said she learned about NRDC’s work while majoring in environmental studies at the University of Pittsburgh. “I knew it as an organization staffed by attorneys and scientists who take a practical and effective approach to addressing environmental challenges,” she said, noting her admiration for the organization’s work its work in fighting for improved protection of species and open spaces. “I wanted to be a part of that. I knew I would be getting exposed to a lot of interesting legal questions and would get to learn from some wonderfully passionate people.”

Her work lived up to her expectations, she reported from Bozeman: “I'm excited to expand my understanding of some of our key environmental laws, like the National Environmental Policy Act, and to continue developing my skills as a writer and communicator. No environmental issue is simple, and I'm really enjoying learning about the process of trying to balance the concerns of diverse groups of people to work toward a solution that will hopefully benefit the planet and all of the parties involved.”

About 20 Duke Law students spent the summer of 2016 engaged in environmental law, policy, and advocacy. A dozen served as Stanback interns, working in NRDC and Earthjustice offices on the West Coast and in Washington, D.C., at the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill, at the Environmental Working Group in the nation’s capital, at the North Carolina Conservation Network in Raleigh, and in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. The Stanback internship program, supported by Duke University alumni Fred and Alice Stanback and administered through the Nicholas School of the Environment, offers summer funding for full-time work in environmental organizations where students can develop skills transferable to a wide-range of practice areas.