January 10, 2024

Elliad Dagan

Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)
New York City, New York

This past summer I worked as a legal intern with the Criminal Branch of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 2, Office of Regional Counsel in New York City. I loved my experience and am endlessly grateful for the Public Interest Law Project (PILP) for helping make my dream attainable. As an intern with the Criminal Branch, I enjoyed the diversity of my assignments. While most branches of an EPA Office of Regional Counsel focus on a singular law such as the Clean Water Act, the criminal branch deals with every environmental law that has criminal penalties. Because my branch was so small, me, another intern, and two attorneys, I always had meaningful work. The work product I am most proud of is a memo I wrote advising whether to prosecute suspects for potentially violating several statutes. In the process of writing the memo, I worked with the detective and special agents who brought the case to uncover additional facts needed to decipher the complex legal issues.

Another highlight of my summer was helping my supervisor prepare expert witnesses for trial and then sitting in on the trial. I was able to sit in on Zoom meetings with a variety of experts and then cross them, playing the part of a defense attorney. I greatly enjoyed the exercise, and the experience reaffirmed my love for litigation. Despite the trial ending in a plea deal after only one day in court, the experience was still exciting and eye-opening.

The Reggie Raiford Pillar of PILP Award I received was essential to being able to afford my summer in New York City. The PILP award allowed me to manage my loans and stress less while I was working unpaid. I was honored to receive the Reggie Raifford Pillar of PILP Award in particular, because Reggie is someone who I look up to on campus. He is kind, genuine, and miraculously manages the goings-on at the law school so adeptly that he makes it look effortless. I hope that I made Reggie proud in the work I did bringing environmental criminals to justice and that I can embody his friendly and confident demeanor as a practicing attorney.