Minnesota Law

Summer 2023
For the Record

Summer Experiences: Svetlana “Aika” Riguera, 2L

Svetlana “Aika” Riguera, 2L, was born and raised in Las Piñas City, Philippines. She attended Dartmouth College for her undergraduate education. Riguera spent her summer working as a summer fellow for the Cornell Law School First Amendment Clinic. This year, she will be a staff member at the Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality, a certified student attorney in the Employment Law Clinic, and a 1L Structured Study Group (SSG) student instructor. 

Svetlana “Aika” Riguera, 2L

How did you connect with or find this summer opportunity?

This specific position was on Symplicity, although I spent a lot of time trawling the internet to find media and First Amendment law summer jobs. 


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

I came into law school wanting to work for media and entertainment companies. That’s still very much an interest of mine, but my main goal at the moment is to get a lot of experience in both litigation and transactional law. I enjoyed all my litigation experience this summer, and I’ll be rounding that out with a lot of transactional experience at the Employment Law Clinic this year. I’ve realized that I enjoy tackling complex problems and there’s plenty of those across all areas of law! 


Please describe a “typical” workday on the job.

Most of my days are spent researching and writing briefs, then meeting with my supervisors to discuss feedback before doing another round of researching and writing. I get to take the lead on writing full briefs in collaboration with another summer fellow, which is exciting but of course means many rounds of revision to learn as much as I can and make the final product as good as it can be. 

Our legal matters are primarily actions on behalf of journalists to gain access to government records that shed light on issues of particular public interest. So a lot of my research is on issues such as the right of access and government transparency.  

I’m also working on some research projects for a client, so I will spend some time in my days on that as well. 


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

I was initially intimidated by litigation, but it’s actually been pretty fun. The pressures of the adversarial context—having to consider complex arguments and get at the root of them so I can counter them—has really made my writing better and my thinking sharper. It’s really satisfying when I come up with a great counter argument and find the perfect case cite to back it up. Those are the moments where I think, okay, I’m on my way to becoming a real lawyer. 


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

First Amendment law is about a lot more than the right to free speech–it also involves, among other things, the right to know about what your government is doing (especially when it may have done something wrong), or to know about what’s happening in your local community. 

Often, the information that’s most important for the public to know is also information that might embarrass or inconvenience certain individuals and organizations. So this is where lawyers like those at the Clinic come in to make sure this important information can see the light of day. It’s really rewarding and valuable work! 


How has your summer experience compared with your expectations?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how hands-on I get to be with the legal matters I’m working on. I’m one of four Summer Fellows working under two supervising attorneys, so I’m able to really get acquainted with our matters, meet clients, and be privy to discussions on legal strategy between my supervisors and any co-counsel we may be working with. 


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

As with any specialized area of law, it’s important to be able to talk passionately about what you like about that area of law. Prior to this summer I had never worked in First Amendment law, so I sought out a lot of people who have and learned as much as I could. I would highly recommend doing that–even if those chats didn’t directly result in job offers, I learned so much about this area of law and I think that helped me get this position! 


How are you spending your free time this summer?

I’ve been spending time with friends and family as much as I can before I am once again consumed by law school. 


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

I’m looking forward to being stuck in the same building as my friends again!