Rising 3L Hanna Larsen promotes environmental conservation at summer position


Jul 19, 2021 | Student

With a strong commitment to advocating for the environment, Hanna Larsen is right at home at the S.J. Quinney College of Law.  The nationally-ranked, top 10 environmental law program at the S.J. Quinney College of Law is home to many environmentally-conscious students and faculty members, Larsen among them.

Larsen was searching for an opportunity that would allow her to practice her legal skills while also contributing to environmental conservation. A summer position as a law clerk at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) was a perfect fit.

“I’ve been aware of the kind of work SUWA does for a few years now and their mission aligns closely with my personal values,” she said. “In particular, I appreciate that they focus solely on protecting the Utah desert – a beautiful and fragile ecosystem unlike any other.”

Larsen typically works on research assignments in conjunction with staff attorneys at the SUWA. She researches issues related to R.S. 2477 rights-of-way, travel management planning, and oil and gas permitting. She also listens in on Congressional committee hearings, writes public comments to the Bureau of Land Management on behalf of the SUWA, and assists in litigation that appears before the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

“Ultimately, I want to practice environmental and natural resources law in a manner that focuses on permanently protecting the environment,” she said. “Interning for SUWA is great because not only does it give me some insight into what such a career would be like, but SUWA often works closely with other environmental groups, so I have the opportunity to connect with attorneys at these other organizations.”

Learn more about Hanna Larsen and her summer position with this Q&A.

Why did this position at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance interest you?

I applied to S.J. Quinney specifically to focus my career on environmental conservation and advocacy and have been seeking out internship opportunities that can support a conservation-based environmental law career after graduation.  In addition, I’ve been aware of the kind of work SUWA does for a few years now and their mission aligns closely with my personal values. In particular, I appreciate that they focus solely on protecting the Utah desert – a beautiful and fragile ecosystem unlike any other.

Why do you think you were selected for this position? What made you a good fit?

I believe I was selected to be SUWA’s summer law clerk because I have a demonstrated personal and academic interest in pursuing environmental and natural resources law (I’m planning on graduating with the Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law). I also think my time as a Wallace Stegner Center Research Fellow provided me with excellent experience researching cutting-edge issues that may not be taught in a typical doctrinal environmental or natural resources law course. Finally, I have spent time recreating in the Southern Utah desert and am familiar with some of SUWA’s priority areas.

What type of work are you doing on a day-to-day basis?

Typically, I am working on several research assignments to support each of SUWA’s four staff attorneys on issues relating to R.S. 2477 rights-of-way, travel management planning with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and oil and gas permitting. I also listen in on Congressional committee hearings, have had the opportunity to write public comments to the BLM on behalf of SUWA, and have assisted in litigation that is before the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

What has been the best part about working at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance?

It’s been wonderful getting know each of the attorneys and helping them with a variety of interesting and complex environmental issues. I’ve also really enjoyed participating in moot court practices for one of our recent hearings and then getting to observe how it played out in court.

What is something you’ve learned while working at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance?

I’ve only been at SUWA for a couple weeks but I’ve already learned a lot about how to craft creative, yet effective legal arguments that utilize the current environmental and natural resources laws to promote conservation. Additionally, I’ve been able to learn more about current environmental policy under the Biden administration and how it may change for the better in the next couple years.

What are your future career goals? How does this opportunity prepare you for your future?

Ultimately, I want to practice environmental and natural resources law in a manner that focuses on permanently protecting the environment. Therefore, I would love to work as an attorney for an environmental advocacy group like SUWA, Earthjustice, or the Sierra Club. Interning for SUWA is great because not only does it give me some insight into what such a career would be like, but SUWA often works closely with other environmental groups, so I have the opportunity to connect with attorneys at these other organizations.

What is something you’ve done this summer besides working for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance?

When I’m not working, I enjoy rock climbing, camping, and paddle boarding with my pups, Lexie and Juniper.


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