Editor’s Note: Each summer Penn Law students hone their skills through a wide array of private and public sector internships across the country and around the world. Generous financial support and fellowships for international and public interest work enable students to pursue diverse assignments in the U.S. and abroad. This dispatch from Zahir Rahman L’15 is one in a series of firsthand accounts by Law School students about how their summer employment opportunities are preparing them for their legal careers. Rahman, who is from Baltimore, is working in Washington, D.C., at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., a leading national environmental, land use, and litigation law firm.
Pursuing a Passion for Environmental Law
Fresh off of my 1L year at Penn Law, I was excited to come to Washington, D.C., as a summer associate at Beveridge & Diamond, a firm known nationwide for its robust and diverse environmental law expertise and experience. A mid-sized firm with just over 100 attorneys across the country, Beveridge & Diamond has a reputation for being a nurturing environment where young attorneys are encouraged follow their interests, design their own practice area, and one day, pursue partnership.
Among my favorite projects at B&D was working with a partner who specializes in Endangered Species Act and land use issues. I composed a series of memos detailing the effect of a possible ESA listing on a client’s energy resource activity in the U.S. This project allowed me to learn a new area of law, interact with detailed federal regulation, and engage in research relevant to a pressing energy development issue. It was also a treat to sit in on the client discussions in which the B&D partner used my findings to counsel the client to take a certain course of action.
One of the most impressive things about B&D is the firm’s dedication to pro bono activities. Throughout the summer, B&D hosted elementary and high school students for events like geography competitions and moot court trials, conducted right in the office. During these events, local students had the opportunity to see the firm and meet with associates and partners. What an incredible opportunity for these kids! It made me feel great to be associated with a firm that takes its dedication to pro bono so seriously.
It turns out that one of the most interesting things I learned this summer had nothing to do with environmental law, but rather with the business side of running a law firm. I became fascinated with how partners built their own practice areas, and how firms court new business and retain old clients. Through my conversations with many partners at B&D and various practice area luncheons, I learned how relationships based on trust and exceptional work product build the foundation of a successful law firm.
As the summer developed, I realized how special the field of environmental law really is. The environment belongs to everyone, not just one nation, corporation, or generation. As a result, everyone from public regulators to private companies has an interest in protecting and maintaining its integrity to a level that is both efficient and reasonable. After my summer at the firm, I look forward to returning to Penn to learn more about energy development and building transmission infrastructure in the U.S. and abroad. Certainly, this coursework and my experience at B&D will continue to guide my legal development in the future.