Summer Experiences: Rising 2L Chad Nowlan, Legal Intern, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
Rising 2L Chad Nowlan this summer is working remotely as a legalintern for the for the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Education’ Office of Civil Rights. He says that working remotely has afforded him the benefits of flexible scheduling and wearing comfortable clothing while still giving the opportunity to forge extremely strong connections with his coworkers that he believes will well outlast the summer.
How did you connect with this summer opportunity?
My goal has always been to work on education policy at the Department of Education (ED), so I made sure to stay plugged into all of the internships available at ED as I began my 1L job search.
How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?
I came to law school after working in Higher Education with the goal of reforming the policies that had the biggest impact on my students. Now being a part of the policy creation and implementation process feels like a perfect way to bridge my experience with my future interests.
Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.
It changes every day! There are three legal teams in my office and it keeps each day exciting as I dive into projects relating to such different yet equally important safeguards for students’ civil rights.
What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising or particularly compelling during this summer position?
With the ever-changing landscapes of technology and social media, drafting policy that addresses issues posed by these dynamic industries can be challenging because it feels like it could be out of date two days after you write it.
What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience so far?
First: fighting for positive change may not always be quick or easy, but it is always worth it. Second: if you are truly excited and energized by the work you do, it will never feel like you’re working. Third: always ask questions and never be afraid to advocate for yourself.
How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?
It has exceeded them! I have been thoroughly intellectually challenged by the questions posed to me and by the issues we address. I never thought I could be a part of such expansive, impactful projects helping students across the country as a 1L summer intern, but at the Department of Education, I can!
What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?
Don’t shy away from opportunities because you’re afraid you won’t get them. You will never know if you don’t try. Also, the federal government sometimes takes a while to process things; don’t panic if you don’t hear from them for a few months after you send your application.
How are you spending your free time this summer?
Visiting family, eating lots of ice cream (Nelson’s in St. Paul is a favorite), reading, running, writing, and trying new board games!
What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall?
I’m very excited to (1) bring things I’ve learned this summer about education-related legal issues into classroom discussions, (2) start a student organization dedicated to education law, and (3) join the Minnesota Law Review as a staff member!