Raising the Bar

Caroline Bertholf
Sept. 25, 2014

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Cross country senior Caroline Bertholf spent the past two summers in Siena's Summer Legal Fellows Program. We had the chance to catch up with her to learn more about the experience.

Q: What was your Summer Legal Fellow experience like?

This was my second Summer Legal Fellow experience and each one was unique. In 2013, I worked at American University Washington College of Law in Washington D.C. doing research for curriculum development.

This past summer I was placed at Pace Law School, at the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic in White Plains, N.Y. I worked on current cases litigating for environmental groups such as Riverkeeper Alliance.

The experience was highly rewarding. I learned more than I ever thought I could possibly know about environmental law. We were expected to rise to the same level of work and responsibilities of the other law students which forced me to learn a great deal of environmental laws and concepts quickly and apply them to our cases.

Q: What kind of work did you do?

The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic represents public interest environmental groups which bring citizen actions against various organizations, agencies, and people in violation of environmental laws.

My role was to assist the supervising attorneys in legal research on statutes and prior case law, as well as find current press materials on or related to various environmental cases and issues. Some assignments included drafting legal documents that were filed in the Court. I also sat in on conference calls and weekly meetings with clients to discuss developments in our cases. At the close of my time at the clinic I was required to prepare closing legal memos on all of the updates in the cases I had been working on.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to audit an introductory class for accepted law students where I leaned techniques on how to brief legal cases and what to expect during my first year in law school.

Q: How has this experience influenced your career aspirations?

It provided me with a solid foundation for law school. I was exposed to many different types of law, and throughout these experiences I have gathered a better understanding of the legal system and explored different types of law that has interested me. Being involved with this program has only continued to fuel my desire to go into the legal profession.

Q: How special is it to have these kinds of opportunities in college where you can stretch your thinking and experience different things?

Having the opportunity to participate in a program like Summer Legal Fellows has opened my eyes to the legal profession and has given me a real world perspective into the legal field. It has allowed me to bring the concepts I have learned and apply them to my courses at Siena. If not for this program, I would not have had these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities or been exposed to different ways of learning and thinking.

Q: How did your experience as a student athlete help prepare you for this opportunity?

Being an athlete carries over into my academic, professional and personal life. As a student athlete I have to be diligent with my time and patient when it comes to practice and training, helping me persevere through difficult tasks.

Additionally, being part of a team has made me more cognizant of the needs and concerns of those around me which has made me a better team player in organizations outside athletics.

Siena's athletic academic advising office, and the entire athletic department, have always been a valuable resource to help guide me on my academic path.