Legally Green

by Kathryn Baxendale '08

Kathryn Baxendale '08

When I began my education at Scripps, a “green” job still meant mostly fieldwork. In fact, when looking for potential summer internships in Career Planning & Resources my sophomore year, most of what came up was with the Forest Service. While that is a noble cause, I do not exactly consider myself an outdoorsy kind of person. I feel strongly that you don’t need to be knee-deep in mud or trash to work on bettering the environment.

My first “real” job after graduating was with a start-up clean tech consulting firm where I was able to get a feel for the regulatory environment (no pun intended) surrounding energy and land use. Working with state agencies on these issues piqued my interest in pursuing the legal aspect, which I believe is a necessary perspective many environmental advocates are sorely lacking.

After two years, I made the decision to apply to law school—a decision not viewed favorably by several of my relatives. I was told growing up that I could be anything I wanted as long as it wasn’t a lawyer. A stigma has developed around the legal profession that I believe is unwarranted. In many cases, especially in the environmental field, working as an attorney is about protecting what may not have a voice— people, wildlife, and habitats alike—not about becoming wealthy at the expense of others.

I’m now just over halfway through my legal education at Santa Barbara College of Law and have been fortunate enough to work with a public interest environmental law firm that focuses on local issues. Whether I continue on with a non-profit firm or join a regulatory agency, I consider being able to see my efforts benefiting the community and its future generations as the most satisfying aspect of what I will do and accomplish.

 

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