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Summer Experience: Emily Tichenor ’16L Compassion International, Colorado Springs, CO

“This experience reaffirmed my desire to pursue public interest post-graduation. If I were one of the 600 million children living in extreme poverty, I would want someone to fight for me.”

Emily Tichenor is a 3L from DeLand, Florida. She graduated from Baylor University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Language & Linguistics. At W&L, she serves as president of the Public Interest Law Student Association and Managing Online Editor of Law Review and hopes to do human rights work post-graduation.

What did you do for work this summer?

I worked with in-house counsel at Compassion International, a non-profit organization based in Colorado Springs focused on relieving poverty in the developing world.

How did you find/get this position?

My family has sponsored a child through Compassion for several years, so I reached out to the internship coordinator to find out if they were hiring a legal intern. I then applied to the internship program and went through the hiring process. This year was the first year for the legal department to take an intern so I had the privilege of being the first-ever legal intern (and graduate intern) at Compassion.

Describe your work experience.

Every day brought something new. I worked with several departments throughout the organization, including human resources, finance, risk management and marketing to help them function safely and effectively. At the beginning of the summer I travelled to the Dominican Republic, one of the countries in which Compassion works, to see how the organization helps children and families in poverty. Because of this trip, I could think back on my trip throughout the summer and know that my work is changing their lives, even if work like reviewing contracts did not seem directly impactful.

What were some skills you developed this summer?

My work allowed me to improve my legal research and critical thinking skills in new ways through projects such as developing internal personnel policies and determining how developing laws might affect the organization.

What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?

Although all of my W&L classes prepared me by exposing me to many areas of the law, non-profit organizations was the most directly relevant. I worked for in-house counsel at another non-profit organization, International Justice Mission, during my 1L summer, which also prepared me for this work.

What surprised you about the work you did this summer?

I was surprised by how many areas of the organization the legal department affects. For example, I researched copyright law for the global program department and tax law for the marketing department.

Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?

This experience reaffirmed my desire to pursue public interest post-graduation. If I were one of the 600 million children living in extreme poverty, I would want someone to fight for me. Thus, I want to use my legal education and skills to help those in need.

How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?

This summer experience helped me realize the importance of a legal department for protecting an organization, as well as the versatility of a JD. Because of that I plan to use my remaining year at W&L to continue to discover the importance of lawyers.

Final Thoughts?

This internship was a great opportunity to not only gain experience at a major non-profit organization, but also to explore Colorado! Over the weekends I did things such as hiking, bouldering, white water rafting, and visiting must-see sites like Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.