Environmental law students receive coveted internships

Three Wayne State University Law School students in the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic have received highly coveted internships this summer, giving them the opportunity to use the experience they've obtained in the classroom and the clinic.

Robert Johns will be working with the Michigan Attorney General's Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division in Lansing. He will be doing legal research and writing, assisting with depositions and discovery, and providing other legal assistance to the State of Michigan regarding environmental matters. In the fall, he will be interning part time for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in Lansing.

Katie Okonowski has an internship with Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) legal department in Region 4, which encompasses the entire southeastern U.S., including the Virgin Islands. She'll be working in Atlanta on legal issues surrounding cleanup of polluted sites under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and helping any prosecutions the department is handling under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Nick Ranke will intern with the legal staff at the MDEQ, in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General's Office, Administrative Law Judges and the Department of Agriculture. The nature of his work will depend on what issues are pending for the MDEQ at the time.

"Having three Transnational Environmental Law Clinic students placed in very competitive summer positions demonstrates the growing strength of Wayne Law's environmental course offerings and the importance of gaining practical legal experience in the clinic," said Professor Nick Schroeck, director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic. "We're proud of the work that Katie, Nick and Robert did while in the clinic, and I'm sure they will continue to impress at their positions this summer."

Johns is especially eager to use what he's learned at Wayne Law in a real-world setting. "My internships will definitely put my textbook knowledge to work," he said. "These are real departments handling real issues that affect real people's jobs and lives."

All three students credit their work in the Wayne Law Transnational Environmental Law Clinic with helping them get these internships.

"The EPA decision committee was impressed by the environmental law clinic's focus on the Great Lakes, because many of the issues we worked on involved more than just Michigan," said Okonowski. "The real-life issues I dealt with in the clinic matched up with the practical experience they were looking for."

Published: Thu, May 10, 2012