Summer Experience: T.J. Benedict ’22L This summer, T.J. Benedict '22L was a Summer Honors Law Clerk in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.
T.J. Benedict ’22L is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and attended the University of Richmond for his undergraduate degree. He then worked as a paralegal in Richmond, VA before starting law school. Outside of classes, T.J. enjoys hiking, camping, and reading biographies.
What did you do for work this summer?
I spent this summer in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), working with the Cross‑Cutting Legal Issues Office (CCLIO).
How did you find/get this position?
I found this position through an online posting on the EPA’s website.
Describe your work experience.
I had a fantastic work experience. My office did remote work seamlessly, and I felt fully a part of the team. I had a wonderful mentor who helped me find assignments and coordinated opportunities for me to meet other attorneys and my fellow summer law clerks. The work itself was fascinating and diverse. My assignments included memos about environmental justice, administrative law, FOIA, and the Tenth Amendment.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
I honed my research, writing, and oral communication skills. In addition to standard research memos, I gave a capstone presentation to the agency’s acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel about judicial review of environmental justice claims under the National Environmental Policy Act. That project immersed me in a unique legal question, I wrote a detailed memorandum about it, and I condensed my findings into a fifteen-minute briefing.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
I was surprised to learn how environmental law affects so many aspects of daily life. Environmental statutes touch the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the trash we produce. Environmental lawyers work on topics as large as nationwide infrastructure and as small as tiny endangered species like the snail darter fish. This breadth creates enriching opportunities to continuously learn new things.
What was your favorite aspect of this summer work experience?
My favorite part of working for the EPA was the people I met. The attorneys I worked with are brilliant, funny, kind people who love their jobs and are seriously committed to the EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. They also know how to host great virtual happy hours.
Has this experience helped you figure out post-graduate plans, and if so, how?
Yes. This experience confirmed my interest in a career in government.
How do you think this experience will shape the rest of your time at W&L Law?
This experience encouraged me to enroll in our environmental law class and take a deeper interest in the school’s sustainability plans.
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