Minnesota Law

Summer 2023
For the Record

Summer Experiences: Chad Berryman, 2L

Chad shared a short video message about his summer experience in Colorado.

Chad Berryman, 2L, is from Traverse City, Michigan. He attended Augsburg University for his undergraduate degree. This summer, he worked as a legal clerk for the Migrant Farm Worker Division of Colorado Legal Services. He was based in Grand Junction, CO, but his work took him all over the state.  This fall, he will be a staffer on Minnesota Law Review, a student instructor for first-year legal research and writing, and a judicial extern at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota.

Chad Berryman, 2L

How did you connect with or find this summer opportunity?

The year before starting law school I was an AmeriCorps member in Alamosa, Colorado.  That position allowed me to do lots of outreach to unsheltered individuals and families, and it also broadened my awareness of service gaps in rural communities. Fast forward to this spring, while looking for summer jobs one night, I searched online for opportunities in rural Colorado.  This position popped up, and I already was familiar with Colorado Legal Services from my time in Alamosa.  Even as I read the description for the first time, I knew this would be a worthwhile and formative experience that would build upon my past experience while also developing my legal skills.


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

 I do not know in what area of law I ultimately wish to practice, but I know that I never want to take for granted the awesome responsibility of a legal education. I came to law school after studying philosophy in undergrad because I wanted to use my reading and writing skills to solve problems for others. For me, law is all about client service, and this position offers daily opportunities to communicate with clients, listen to their concerns, and continue exploring where my experience and interests overlap with the goals and needs of those around me. 


Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

 Often, I am in the office conducting legal research, communicating with clients, and translating documents between English and Spanish. However, two nights each week I perform outreach to agricultural workers all across the Western Slope. This typically involves driving out into the countryside, finding the workers’ housing, and having conversations about their work and about their rights under state and federal law.  Performing outreach is incredibly important because agricultural workers frequently live in isolated locations and face numerous other barriers when attempting to access resources.  Outreach can also be a blast; it is difficult to adequately convey just how gracious and generous the workers are during my visits, and I am privileged to get glimpses into their lives and to learn a whole bunch about their work.


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

It has been fascinating learning about how complex the laws are surrounding agricultural labor, as well as how much the worker population can vary from state to state. Here in Colorado, I interact with tons of foreign workers who possess H-2A visas, which present their own legal complexities, yet legal aid organizations in other states may confront quite different populations, resource gaps, or state-level protections.


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

I definitely have a greater appreciation for the centrality of setting appropriate expectations at the beginning of a client interaction, as well as the necessity of frequently revisiting and managing those expectations. The importance of sincere listening and balancing a humane compassion with special attention to legally-significant details also has been a crucial dimension of this experience.


How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

It has been everything I hoped it would be. My work is important, I’m surrounded by professional and down-to-earth colleagues, and western Colorado is just as gorgeous as I expected.  What more could I want in a summer experience?


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

Do it. Thanks to Law in Practice and our awesome practitioner instructors, I arrived this summer ready to listen to clients and begin finding an authentic voice that balances sharing information with admitting what I do not know. I have no doubt that such experiences will make me a more effective and realistic advocate throughout my career.


How are you spending your free time this summer?

I’m doing a lot of hiking and camping in the mountains, as well as perfecting the technique for losing my queen in online chess games.  The highs of the former are matched only by the lows of the latter.


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

I’m looking forward to being reunited with the people and places that fill my life with joy and belonging. I miss my favorite coffee shop and the incredible baristas there who always find a way to make my day, just as I miss taking walks by the Stone Arch Bridge and reflecting on where I’m at and where I’m going.  However, I am most looking forward to getting back on the ping pong table in Rottschaefer Lounge… Section C knows that’s where I feel most at home.