Summer Job Diaries: Initiating Change in Environmental Law

Alondra Espinosa

Alondra Espinosa is a rising third-year day student spending her summer working at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. At the EPA, she's had the opportunity to work with leading scientists, attorneys and politicians on groundbreaking issues like the Clean Water Rule.

How did you land your summer job?

I heard of the position from my mentor during my 1L year, but unfortunately, the position was only open to 2Ls. During the summer of my 1L year, I looked up the application deadline and prepared my resume and cover letter through the help of Loyola’s Career Development Center. Finally, I prepared for the telephone interview using material provided to me by Loyola’s Career Development Center.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

The most interesting aspect of my job is the global impacts that my projects have. My clients require counseling on various legal and policy issues in order for them to develop rulemakings that can ultimately affect our country and world. I am humbled by the opportunity to work on such complex, innovative and progressive projects with leading scientists, attorneys and politicians. Moreover, I have had the privilege of working for the EPA while a number of groundbreaking rules were finalized -- including the Clean Water Rule. It was exciting to be in hearings before Congress, in multiparty negotiations and in meetings with world leaders. My summer at the EPA has truly been unforgettable.

What has been your most challenging assignment thus far?

I recently had to brief the general counsel regarding the possible legal challenges to an EPA proposed rule. The subject itself was not difficult to understand or research, however the difficult aspect was to prepare a brief presentation highlighting only the most important and relevant aspects on the topic in a manner that could be easily understood. When giving the presentation, I was also faced with tough questions on the matter. Prior to the presentation, I prepared as much as possible, but it was nevertheless challenging to answer all the questions and get through your presentation in a limited time.

What new legal skill have you acquired during your summer job?

This position has given me a more complete understanding of environmental statutes and regulations, federal agencies and the rulemaking process. In my time at the EPA, I worked on a variety of rules in different stages including pre-proposal to finalization. I feel fortunate to have witnessed the different thought processes required in each. In addition, I gained a variety of legal skills including learning how to do document review, negotiation skills and strategies, and a more in-depth understanding of the Clean Water Act and Safe Water Drinking Act.

What bit of legal knowledge have you been able to display?

I have been able to display the knowledge that I gained in classes like Administrative Law, Evidence, Introduction to Negotiations and Legal Drafting. Professor Adam Zimmerman’s Administrative Law class prepared me to handle all administrative law issues I encountered.  

How has Loyola helped you map your career path?

I cannot stress enough how much Loyola’s Career and Development Center helped me by reviewing my resume and cover letter. When it came to finding a funding source for my summer expenses, my career counselor referred me to the Public Interest Law Department, where I learned about the Summer Public Interest Employment Program and the Public Interest Law Foundation. Both programs helped me completely fund my summer internship with the U.S. EPA, Office of General Counsel, in Washington, DC.