Law School

Summer Series: Fighting for the Environment

Summer Series 2019 continues! Today we have Natasha Viteri, a rising 2L who decided to use her first summer working on environmental issues. Environmental law lacks enough of us in the space, which is a shame because Latinx suffer so much from harmful environmental policies. Knowing this, Natasha hustled to get her internship and shares with us the tips that worked for her to get her internship! 

¡Hola Hermanas! My name is Natasha Viteri and I am a rising 2L at the University of Colorado Law School. I am originally from Quito, Ecuador and I lived in Houston before moving to Boulder. This summer, I am interning at Earthjustice, an environmental non-profit in Denver. I knew I wanted to spend my 1L summer at this organization because of the opportunity I would have to work on environmental justice issues involving communities of color across the country. These communities often bear the brunt of environmental burdens and are not regularly involved in policy-making, even as it relates to their own neighborhoods and interests. This summer I am working on cases advocating for tribal clients and their ancestral lands; and Latinx communities suffering from increased exposure to pollution due to nearby highway construction. What I love most about my internship is being able to interact with and learn from such passionate and caring attorneys. Getting to know their personal motivations for going into environmental law, as well as their career trajectory has helped me visualize my own professional development and all the different turns it can take. 

I found this internship through my law school’s Pledge to Diversity Program. The Pledge seeks to promote diversity and inclusion by placing students in positions that are not traditionally held by individuals of non-traditional backgrounds. This is especially important in the environmental sphere, since this area of law has historically had trouble hiring and retaining attorneys of color. 

The application to this program involves a personal statement, an application form, and several rounds of interviews. Employers then choose their law clerk through a “draft.” This all seemed very daunting when I started the process, and it definitely helped to consult with 2L and 3L students who had gone through it before. The career office at my law school also held mock interviews to help us prepare for the arduous panel interviews that would ask about our backgrounds, interests, and reasons for choosing law as a career. 

Even though I was certainly nervous before my interviews, I ultimately enjoyed them because they really were about getting to know us as individuals and placing us where we would have the most positive experience. My advice for anyone interviewing for a summer job or fellowship is to be yourself and let your passion shine through. Often, we are made to think that the best approach for interview preparation is to rehearse answers over and over and to practice every possible scenario and question that might come up. After speaking to lots of attorneys who are in charge of hiring, I would say that it is more important to come across as genuine, and to bring in your past experiences, both in life and in your professional history, when answering questions during an interview. As lawtinas, we also bring a very different perspective to the table, and this should be part of the way we market ourselves and advocate for our own advancement.

If anyone is interested in environmental law, feel free to reach out! I am always happy to chat!