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2L gains substantive work experience through Washington, D.C., Summer Program

November 30, 2016 | Students

Washington, D.C., is an attractive place to live and work for people from all backgrounds and professions. From policy makers and lobbyists to government officials and agency leaders, the nation’s capital is a hub for networking, legislation, and partisan work.

For 2L Javier Lopez, an externship in the capital city helped lay the groundwork for his remaining years in law school and a successful career after graduation. He participated in the Moritz College of Law’s Washington, D.C., Summer Program, which places students in substantive externships in D.C., alongside a high-quality academic program.

“I was really attracted to being in D.C. for a summer and I had heard so many good things about the program, including that older students have benefited greatly from their experiences there and that they had good, substantive work experiences that helped them prepare for the future,” Lopez said.

Lopez worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development ‘s (HUD) Office of General Counsel. There he helped senior counsel with the agency develop and review documents involved with the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program.

“It’s a newer program so the work was constant and on the fly because a lot of the issues we ran into were issues that had never come up before.  I spent a lot of time assisting senior counsel and pushing certain aspects of that program forward. Whether that was developing documents for field counsel or assisting senior counsel in finding better ways to communicate with our field attorneys,” he explained.

With all of the reports of gridlocked politics coming out of Washington, D.C., as of late, Lopez said he was inspired by the way officials at HUD worked together to find solutions to housing issues affecting people all over the country.

“I didn’t know what to expect going to a federal agency, but you see in these massive buildings with thousands of employees in a city that lately has been so negatively portrayed as a city of gridlock where nothing gets done, you see these incredibly talented people doing incredibly complex work efficiently and doing it with incredible skill,” he said. “When you’re around such capable and efficient people, you’re going to learn a lot.”

Among the skills Lopez said he will take away from his time in the program are the importance of networking and how to interact and work with people of all levels of an organization.

“Some of the most important things students could take out of an internship experience in D.C. are just skills of being a good practicing attorney. Professionalism skills, ways to interact with upper-level individuals whether that’s in a firm or an agency or in any type of office. And, then just practical skills that will help you in your day-to-day work are the most long lasting skills I’ll take with me from the program,” he said. “The program is only 10 weeks and you’re thrown into a new place, are doing substantive work, and just have to adapt quickly and learn on the fly. It’s great experience.”

Originally from Northern California, the Washington, D.C., Summer Program was part of the initial draw to Moritz, Lopez said. He completed his undergraduate studies at Kansas State University, and when it came time to start looking at law schools, The Ohio State University stood out from other institutions in the Midwest.

“I always envisioned going to law school from the time I was in high school. I was always attracted to the academic challenge that law school presents and attracted to the opportunity to gain a set of skills that can be put to a wide variety of uses, in both the public and private sector. And that’s also why I’m in Ohio and at Moritz. On the first visit I fell in love with the people and the city and I was drawn by the fantastic faculty and the variety of different programs that Moritz offers, especially the D.C. program,” he said.