Minnesota Law

Summer 2022

Summer Experiences: Rising 3L Kim Ortleb, Law Clerk, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Photo: Jay Mallin

Rising 3L Kim Ortleb is spending the summer as a law clerk for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in Washington, D.C.  She says her time at the CEQ has reaffirmed her interest in working in environmental law as a government attorney.

How did you connect with this summer opportunity?

I learned about the opportunity to clerk at CEQ through the Career Center’s listserv. If you are interested in clerking for CEQ, I highly recommend applying for a semester or summer clerkship here!

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

I hope to work in government as an environmental lawyer, so working at CEQ, which coordinates national environmental policy, has been an invaluable experience. 

Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

Every day at CEQ is different, which makes the job fun. One day I could be editing a report to Congress, another day I could be researching a legal issue related to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). I especially enjoy reviewing proposed rules from other agencies under EO 12866, which facilitates interagency cooperation.

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

One thing I have learned as CEQ amends the NEPA regulations is that promulgating rules takes a long time for a reason! A lot of work goes into rulemaking.

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

First, my experience has confirmed my desire to work in government as an environmental lawyer. Second, I am impressed by the strong commitment to public service from everyone at CEQ. 

How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

My summer experience has exceeded my expectations! CEQ gives law clerks the opportunity to work substantively on many important issues that affect the nation, and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to CEQ’s work. It has also been wonderful working with my fellow law clerks and CEQ’s dedicated lawyers and policymakers. 

How do you like Washington, D.C.?  

I love living and working in D.C.! There are not many workplaces where you can stop by a world-class museum or visit a historic monument during your lunch break. 

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

I recommend taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities because they give you the skills to succeed in any clerkship. I especially recommend developing your legal research and writing abilities and Bluebooking skills. Additionally, and most importantly, don’t count yourself out of opportunities that might seem out of reach. Instead, you should go for it and apply! 

"Don’t count yourself out of opportunities that might seem out of reach. Instead, you should go for it and apply!"
Kim Ortleb, 3L

How are you spending your free time this summer?

I spend most of my free time exploring D.C. I have enjoyed visiting museums, looking at the monuments, and trying new restaurants (I highly recommend Thip Khao; it is my new favorite restaurant!). 

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

My favorite part about law school has been the experiential learning opportunities, and I am looking forward to continuing to take advantage of those opportunities. I am especially interested in the Civil Rights Appellate Clinic.