Minnesota Law

Summer 2022

Rising 3L Jackie Cuellar, Legal Intern, Food & Water Watch

Jackie Cuellar is spending the summer working remotely as a legal Intern for Food & Water Watch (FWW), a Washington D.C.-based NGO focusing on corporate and government accountability relating to food, water, and corporate overreach. 

How did you connect with this summer opportunity?

I was familiar with Food & Water Watch and was excited to apply when I came across their posting for the legal internship opportunity on Symplicity. 

How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?

I am very interested in working on issues related to agriculture and environmental justice. At FWW, I have had the opportunity to continue learning about legal and policy solutions and I get to work alongside other attorneys dedicated to creating a just food system. 

Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

My day typically consists of conducting legal research and drafting memos, policy briefs or other materials such as FOIA requests or petitions. Most days also include a check-in with my supervisor, other members of the legal team, or organizers with legal research requests. 

What is something you learned or experienced that was surprising or particularly compelling during this summer position?

I am often surprised and frustrated by the many obstacles that prevent large factory farms from being properly regulated despite their enormous contribution to climate change and adverse impacts on public health. Nevertheless, I continue to be inspired by the work being done at FWW to hold polluters accountable.  

What are a couple of your key takeaways from the experience so far?

Organization and planning are critical for conducting legal research, especially on unfamiliar topics. Although I am often eager to try to track down every seemingly relevant case and statute I can find on a subject, it’s important, and much more efficient in the long run, to take the time to sketch out a research plan and structure an outline before diving in.

How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

My experience at FWW has gone above and beyond my expectations! I have been able to connect with dedicated staff from all over the organization including attorneys, researchers, policy analysts, and organizers despite working remotely. The work is highly engaging and I am always amazed at how much more there is to learn about the food system. 

What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?

If you are new to environmental law issues, try to take related courses or look for opportunities during the school year to get more exposure to the field. However, even though it certainly helps to have some familiarity with environmental law, energy law, etc., your skills and experience in legal research and writing are the most important!

"If you are new to environmental law issues, try to take related courses or look for opportunities during the school year to get more exposure to the field. "
Jackie Cuellar, 2L

How are you spending your free time this summer?

My fiancé and I recently bought a house, so we have been keeping busy with some remodeling projects! 

What are you most looking forward to in returning to Minnesota Law this fall?

I am very excited about the courses I will be taking in the fall and being able to connect what I have learned this summer to what I am learning in class.