EP 005 – Intern Experience at Desautel Law, with Karen
CLARICE: This is Environmentally Speaking. I’m Clarice and I know Marisa isn’t here today. I didn’t steal her role. We have a special guest. We have Karen who just finished her summer internship with our office. So we thought it would be really fun to chat with Karen, get her perspective on her experience and talk about what it’s like working in the office. Hi, Karen.
KAREN: Hi, guys. So happy to be here. Thank you for having me.
CLARICE: I’m going to kind of put you in the hot seat. Tell me how it was.
KAREN: It was absolutely incredible, this whole summer internship experience. I just finished – when I started this internship, I had just finished my first year of law school, so really I had no prior experience other than classes that I was taking in law school which is a lot of reading and taking notes. So this was real world experience where I got to actually learn about cases that were happening in front of me in an area that I’m so passionate about which is environmental law. And I got to be thrown into things that I never thought I would be thrown into and kind of get that real world experience which was incredible.
CLARICE: Oh, well, thank you. And sorry about the throwing in, but.
KAREN: No. It was great. It was great.
CLARICE: So what were some things that you – like what were some things that you were surprised to learn about from working in the office?
KAREN: Yeah. I guess one thing that I was surprised to learn about is kind of we were talking about this case that we’re working on. And kind of when you look at it in the big picture you kind of think, oh, this is something that’s good for the environment. This will help the environment. But then when you actually dive deeper into it and see how it affects other parties and other people you realize that maybe it’s not what’s best for the environment and that there’s so many players in every single case and how when you’re doing something to try to help the environment you need to make sure it works for everyone and not just the parties with the big pockets, so.
CLARICE: That’s a good way of putting it. I love that. So tell me a little bit – you said that your interests were in environmental law. Tell me a little bit more about your background [inaudible].
[0:02:46] KAREN: Yeah. Yeah. Of course. So I got my undergrad from the University of Miami and I double majored in marine affairs and ecosystem science and policy. And I’m currently going to law school at Roger Williams University School of Law. And I basically chose that law school because I do want to do the joint degree program they have with the University of Rhode Island so I would also get my master’s in marine affairs. So I’m all about the environment. I want to be a lawyer so that I can help protect the environment and fight for the environment. And kind of when I met Marisa she is someone who I want to be like one day because she is that voice for the environment. And when I met her I was like, I hope I get this opportunity to kind of see how she works and what her firm does. And it’s exactly what I wanted it to be and that’s exactly what this firm does is kind of fight for the environment and fight for the people who care about the environment which is so incredible.
CLARICE: For the record, this is not why we hired Karen, but all of this really helps. So what’s something that you loved doing? Did you discover anything about, you know, the law office and the process of the practice that you really loved doing, or?
KAREN: Yeah. I mean, I really kind of discovered that every single case I worked on I was – it was something I was interested in because it was about the environment. So I loved diving deeper into kind of the specifics of the cases, reading, researching. I hadn’t done much research during my one L year, so I loved kind of doing that research on every case and looking deeper into those things. And then I also kind of started getting the opportunity to write some motions and that is something I could see myself doing in the future. I thought it was really cool to do that research and then use that research to write these motions that are actually being used for these major cases which is really cool.
CLARICE: Nice. Was there something that – a surprising challenge?
KAREN: I guess probably a surprising challenge for me would be when you’re in law school you get the case, you read the case, and then you take notes on it and you’re asked about it in class. Whereas in the real world these cases have so many parts. There’s not a written-out case for you. What’s happening in so many different parts and kind of going through so, so, so many documents kind of to get the full picture of something. So I think that was challenging trying to get the full picture because there might not be a full picture yet. Everything is kind of still in the process. So I think kind of going through all those documents and trying to piece everything together to write something to, I guess, help the parties was definitely challenging but something I really enjoyed doing. So there’s just a lot to it, but it was super enjoyable.
[0:05:52] CLARICE: I always thought when I was in law school that each case was like a puzzle.
CLARICE: And when you were reading a completed case you got lucky because you got to see the picture on the box.
CLARICE: But when you’re working in the firm, you’re kind of putting it all together, but you don’t have that front box picture.
KAREN: Exactly. Exactly.
CLARICE: Is there anything else that you’d want to share about your experience or anything that you’d want to talk about that you really loved or challenged you [inaudible].
KAREN: Yeah. So I guess kind of my experience this summer was so great because in my law school classes you have to take kind of the basic crim law class, constitutional law class and everything like that and I kind of felt a little stuck maybe I would say because I like law school, but it’s nothing I’m super passionate about. So coming into the summer internship was kind of just like reopening that door for me. I was reading and looking into stuff I was super passionate about, stuff with offshore wind farms and protecting fisherman which is something I’m extremely passionate about.
And it kind of just gave me that push to be like – to go back into law school. This is something you really want to do and this would be a job I – the internship I had would want to be a job I would want one day. So I kind of think it gave me that motivation to go into this year to be like, you will eventually be doing what you want to be doing and it’s happening in Rhode Island. It’s being led by females which is incredible. And it just really kind of inspired me, I guess is the best way to put it, that this stuff is happening in Rhode Island which is where I want to work and that I can be a part of it one day because I was this summer which was so incredible.
CLARICE: Do you have any advice that you would give somebody who’s either looking to go into law school or, you know, just starting out in law school when it comes to internships? Anything you learned that you thought was super helpful?
KAREN: Yeah. I mean, I think some advice I would give is do your research when you’re applying for internships and kind of don’t just take the easy way out. Apply for something you would really see yourself doing and would really want to do. And working for this firm is something I would want to do for a career, something that I was passionate about that I wanted to do. And stuff like this is a little bit harder to find, but if you do your research kind of know what you want to do and have that experience. And then once you get that opportunity to kind of just dive head first into it. Give it your all. You know, do the work well and kind of – I think when you’re passionate about something it makes it so much more enjoyable. So make sure you do your research to get an internship that is kind of something you want to do, not maybe the most prestigious, or.
I’ve talked to so many of my friends who have had internships this summer who – it’s prestigious internships with judges and stuff like that, but they didn’t enjoy it at all because it wasn’t anything they were super passionate about. Whereas this was something I was passionate about, so everything I was reading, everything I was doing, I cared about doing it and it kind of gave me that experience for my future career one day which I want to be in something like this. So just do your research. Don’t settle. And kind of go for something you actually want to do because it’s a whole summer. It takes up a lot of your time and it’s really important that it’s an experience that you actually enjoyed and that you learned a lot from.
[0:09:43] CLARICE: And I can say sitting at the other side of the table from you I could see that. In the interview it was very clear that Rhode Island and Rhode Island’s oceans were you passion and what you were focused on and that spoke a lot to me.
CLARICE: So I would agree with that completely just being on the other side. If you’re passionate about it, the people you’re interviewing with will see it. It is something that you love and you’ll stand out more in interviews.
KAREN: Yeah. That’s awesome. Thank you. I appreciate that you saw that.
CLARICE: Oh, of course. That was a big deal to us. Well, thank you, Karen. Do you have anything that you’d want to leave anybody with or any last thoughts?
KAREN: I guess I just want to thank you and Marisa for such a great summer opportunity. I learned so much and I kind of now have that push to work hard this upcoming year because I know kind of what I want to do in a career. People are doing it in Rhode Island. And I can kind of see it clearer now which is so great. My final advice is getting an internship that kind of gives you that motivation to get through school because it’s something you’re really interested in and passionate about. And, yeah, I just want to say thank you.
CLARICE: Well, it was amazing having you this summer. You were a joy to be in the office. And it’s a little quieter without you. We miss you already.
KAREN: I miss you.
CLARICE: But thank you for podcasting. We appreciate it. And, guys, look out for Karen.
KAREN: Yeah. Thank you all so much.
CLARICE: All right. Bye, everybody. Thanks.