Policy in Action at NextGen America Georgi Pisano-Goetz ‘20L spent her summer at San Francisco-based voting rights group.
Georgianna Pisano Goetz is a 2L at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where she is a member of the German Law Journal, Public Interest Law Students Association, and Women’s Law Students Association. She hopes to pursue a career of policy advocacy through strategic litigation and regulatory work.
What did you do for work this summer?
I worked at NextGen America, which is an environmental advocacy nonprofit and political action committee based in San Francisco. It was created in 2013 by Tom Steyer and supports candidates and policies that take action against climate change. I worked as a Progressive Policy intern at the Sacramento office, researching and lobbying for progressive policies in California.
How did you find/get this position?
I was familiar with NextGen America’s advocacy through their online presence and saw that they had a legal internship over the summer. I looked at their LinkedIn and saw someone who was “connected” to me because she went to college with someone I went to high school with, so it was quite the stretch. I asked for a short phone call, during which she offered to boost my resume to the right people!
Describe your work experience.
I had the unique pleasure of working in a West coast political space, which meant jeans and kombucha were regular fixtures at the office. It was quite different from the East coast experience!
My direct supervisor and I developed a long-term project producing a report on improvements California can make with regards to voting rights and electoral reform. As I worked on my long-term project, I also participated in lobbying days and produced memos on the legality of certain California initiatives, including the initiative to split California into three states, a groundbreaking privacy law, and California’s efforts towards net neutrality.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
Persuasive writing, for sure! My supervisor graduated from Stanford’s law program, but everyone else in the organization was a mix of Bachelor’s, Master’s, or sometimes no degree at all, so I had to explain complicated legal issues for a broad audience and still try to argue my “side.”
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
There’s such a variety of what you can do with your law degree, and it was really interesting to see how legal issues that I had learned about in southern Virginia were being discussed on the west coast.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
It was NextGen itself. The organization is new, exciting, youthful and headquartered in the heart of San Francisco. The organization prizes team building and “funness” events, and working somewhere that placed such value on team members was very rewarding. Plus, it’s a group of people working to make the world a better place, so every day felt invigorating and optimistic.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
Going into the summer, I felt that I wanted to do political work just like this after graduation. After spending the summer at NextGen, I loved the work but felt like it may not have been the strongest application of my law degree. Further, there were plenty of people working on our projects with us who were more traditional lawyer types, so this experience pushed me towards a more “traditional” lawyer path while still doing advocacy work and volunteering with NextGen in my spare time.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
Well, NextGen has a team called Rising that sponsors undergraduate fellows on college campuses in 11 states. The fellows register voters and try to boost turnout and voter participation. Rising is at most Virginia schools except W&L, so I would love if a club opened up on the undergraduate side. In the meantime, I’ll be volunteering with NextGen at UVA and VCU to turnout voters in the November election.