PUBLISHED:September 18, 2015

Summer Stanback internships in environmental law and policy help students build transferable skills

Eleven Duke Law students — 10 JD students and one SJD candidate — secured summer 2015 internships in environmental advocacy, law, and policy through the Stanback Internship Program. Established by Duke University alumni Fred and Alice Stanback and administered, campus-wide, by the Nicholas School of the Environment, the program supports students for up to 11  weeks of fulltime work at targeted environmental organizations, allowing them to develop skills that are transferable to a wide range of practice areas. Over the past summer, Duke Law Stanback interns worked at such organizations as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice offices in Tallahassee, Fla., and Washington, D.C., the Southern Environmental Law Center, the League of Conservation Voters, and Defenders of Wildlife.

Aarti Gupta ’17 said she learned a great deal about environmental and energy law during her internship with the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association. In addition to monitoring dockets, summarizing legal issues, reviewing motions, and filing documents with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, she wrote a paper on the barriers and solutions to the use of electric vehicles in the state.

“My internship allowed me to practically use my legal knowledge and gain skills that I couldn’t learn in the classroom,” she said. “I got an understanding of how law is actually practiced, and explored an area of law that was new to me.”

As an intern at the N.C. Conservation Network, Brett Bellmore ’17 monitored legislative and committee sessions at the General Assembly and surveyed pending environmental bills and conservation priorities pending in states across the nation in order to identify legislation compatible with North Carolina’s legal structure and political climate. He also researched a proposed rule designating a species as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, triaged environmental legislation pending in the current legislative session, and helped draft an environmental bill for future introduction.

Bellmore said that with environmental protections at the state level in peril, he was presented with challenges that required practical thinking, the ability to solve problems, and considerable creativity — and numerous opportunities to hone skills that are essential for success in practice.

“Among them, I include effective writing and advocacy, attention to detail, the ability to parse statutory authority, general familiarity with legal analysis, and the creative problem-solving abilities critical to success, in law and otherwise,” he said. “The N. C. Conservation Network provided ample opportunity to develop all of these skills.” He said he is grateful for the generous support he received from the Stanback Internship Program.

“It’s an incredible resource of which I encourage future Duke Law students to take full advantage,” he said.