Interning in the Last Frontier
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Interning in the Last Frontier

Former interns and externs share their thoughts about how Trustees for Alaska prepared them for careers in environmental law.

Brandon Cobb (Lewis & Clark 2015)

Extern Brandon Cobb 2014

Brandon skating at Nancy Lakes.

My externship with Trustees for Alaska was a wonderful experience! During my short time here, I was able to work on a variety of projects, applying my law school coursework to complicated legal issues under both federal and state law. Besides drafting memos, comments, and sections of legal briefs, I also had the opportunity to participate in settlement negotiations—an experience that was definitely the highlight of my externship. The legal issues I was asked to analyze were generally interesting, and working with the staff at Trustees was a great experience. I was included in every aspect of their work, providing me with invaluable insights into the life of a public interest attorney and the functioning of a non-profit law firm. Each attorney also seemed to make it his or her personal mission to help me improve as an advocate, teaching me lessons I will certainly carry forward into my career.

When I wasn’t in the office, I was falling in love with the Alaska outdoors. Being here during the fall semester only improved my experience, allowing me to hike, ice skate, and cross-country ski to my heart’s content. The recreational opportunities in the area—many of them a short drive from the office—were fantastic and made me excited to come into work each day to help protect the wild places I had just enjoyed.

Anchorage also has a lot to offer as Alaska’s largest city. One can always find good food and great beer at the city’s restaurants and brewpubs, many of which are within walking distance of the office. The extensive trail system also makes it easy to get around town on foot, bike, or skis. And no matter where you are in Anchorage, there’s always a mountain range staring back at you. I can’t wait to come back!

Cecilia Segal (Harvard University 2014)

My internship with Trustees for Alaska was a very rewarding experience. During my short time here, I was lucky enough to get to draft a substantial motion and a portion of a brief. Doing this work taught me about the various stages of litigation, and also greatly improved my research and writing skills. I also learned about the unique environmental challenges facing Alaska, and about Trustees’ efforts to help resolve those challenges. Another highlight of my internship was observing Trustees’ own Brian Litmans argue before the Ninth Circuit (in a case that Trustees ultimately won!). These experiences gave me invaluable insights into environmental lawyering, and I’m sure they will continue to benefit me throughout my career. Most of all, it was a pleasure working with such skilled and passionate attorneys and staff.

Living in Anchorage is an experience I’ll never forget. Trustees is located right downtown (and above a delicious diner). Within minutes of leaving work, though, you can get to beautiful trails along the coast or in the Chugach Mountains. I can’t believe all the amazing adventures I had, including whitewater rafting, a glacier hike, and horseback riding along a pristine lake. The scenery and wildlife in Alaska is breathtaking; I couldn’t get enough of it. I wish I could have stayed longer!

Courtney (Boston University 2014): 

Working for Trustees for Alaska this summer was a wonderful experience! Along with the opportunity to work with skilled attorneys and staff members, I was able to actively participate in numerous precedent-setting environmental cases. Just some of the interesting legal topics I became involved with include climate change, clean water and air, Alaska’s Arctic lands, wildlands conservation, and wildlife protection.  Not only did the attorneys at Trustees help to enhance my legal research and writing skills, but also they made sure that the summer was educational by providing opportunities to learn about important environmental issues facing the State of Alaska.

Living in the biggest city in Alaska provides access to many resources unavailable to most remote regions of the State. The downtown area has excellent restaurants, with great seafood options and microbreweries that are unique to the region. Trustees’ office is located right above the best breakfast spot in town, and a short walk away from the coastal trail, providing breathtaking views of Cook Inlet and surrounding mountain ranges on Turnagain Arm.  Just beyond the Anchorage city limits there are several state and national parks that offer exceptional hiking and mountain biking options!

Living in Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that many people never have the chance to do. From white-water river rafting on the Susitna River, to glacier trekking on the Matanuska Glacier, to camping in Denali National Park, the opportunities for adventure are endless. This summer has been much more than a job, and anything but a typical summer internship.

Kelly (Vermont Law School 2014): 

My summer internship with Trustees for Alaska has been a truly valuable experience, both professionally and personally. It’s been rewarding to apply the tools and skills from my legal education thus far to help protect Alaska’s beautiful wild places and natural resources for current and future generations.

From researching and developing comments on captivating topics (such as the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale), to helping Trustees’ attorneys draft pleadings for some of the most significant environmental cases happening in the region today, my internship experience with Trustees has enhanced my understanding of how to use the law to protect the environment in ways no text book ever could explain. I had the opportunity to learn new statutes, draft innovative legal memorandums, conduct sectional analyses of proposed legislation, research and write arguments for current cases, and assist with editing and filing motions in court. Simultaneously, I worked directly with some of the most inspiring and intelligent environmental attorneys in the country on a one-on-one basis. I will be forever grateful for the mentorship role Trustees’ attorneys provided me during this internship as I embark on my future legal career.

With an office based in the heart of downtown Anchorage, Trustees’ location alone also provided many perks––like enjoying a daily bike commute along the Coastal Trail that includes watching the changing of the tides of Cook Inlet while viewing the snow-covered mountains of the Alaska Range across the inlet. With easy access to trails and ridgelines in the Chugach Mountains for a post-work run under the midnight sun, my internship with Trustees allowed me to maintain the essential balance of working passionately for a cause I believe in while also getting to play and explore Alaska’s magical wild places as well. Overall, I don’t think I could have chosen a better place to spend my summer before 3L year.  I am truly grateful to have been an intern with Trustees.

Jake (Lewis & Clark 2014):

Working with Trustees for Alaska allowed me to expand my knowledge in areas and issues of environmental law and provided me with practical legal skills that I will use throughout my career. Assignments ranged from statutory analysis of bills to analyzing interesting and sometimes unanswered environmental law questions. This internship provided me with the opportunity to hone my legal research and writing skills while receiving excellent critical feedback. The attorneys at Trustees were always available to discuss and work through issues, which added to the overall experience I had working with this excellent team.

Trustees also seems to have an unwritten policy on ensuring that their interns have a great time while living in Alaska. Everyone had advice on the plethora of things to do outside of work. The sheer abundance of recreational opportunities and the raw beauty within Alaska make it difficult for anyone with an eye on adventure to go unfulfilled while spending time there. On top of that, Anchorage hosts some of the best eateries and social locations in Alaska, most of which are easily accessible through the expansive trail system that runs throughout and around the city. Alaska is a place I will surely be returning to.

Ryan (Lewis & Clark 2013)

Jordan (Lewis & Clark 2012)

Lorena (Lewis & Clark 2011)

Adrianne (Lewis & Clark 2010)

Suzanne (Lewis & Clark 2008) –Also a current staff attorney at Trustees for Alaska


Kelly, Jacob and Courtney (left to right) successfully scaled Flattop in early June. Named for its broad flat peak, the trail up to its top is the most popular ascent in the Anchorage area.

2014 Interns Kelly, Jacob and Courtney (left to right) successfully scaled Flattop in early June. Named for its broad, flat peak, the trail up to its top is the most popular ascent in the Anchorage area.