Student Commentary

The Temple Law and Public Policy Program

Megan Moore Temple Law

Throughout my education, I have always had a strong inclination towards reading and research. I was encouraged to embrace my willingness to delve into a new book or use spare time to document my ideas. In college, I took advantage of the opportunity to take classes that involved literature and ethnic studies, environmental issues, and language translation. I wrote papers on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of post-South African Apartheid and the challenges and prospects of openness and democracy in Cuba. Other classes required formal papers in Spanish or gave me the opportunity to reach back to translations of philosophy from Plato.

Books that shaped my life included a memoir and autobiography by President Barack Obama. These books left me questioning policy at the local level, and I found courage and authentic perspectives on community development through its pages. My interest in policy led me to attend college at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. There, I conducted guided research on water resources and interned at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of the Administrator. After graduating, I returned to the EPA full time and gained work experience in Science Communications and Science and Technology Policy.

“As a current Scholar, I can attest not only to the value of networking, but also to the opportunity to engage in student-driven policy initiatives that relate to human rights, community development, and environmental awareness.”

The experience helped focus my decision to attend law school to develop a background in energy and environmental law. I found that the things I enjoyed most – writing, analysis, journalism, and communication – made up some of the most fundamental parts of being a law student, a practicing lawyer, and an advocate for communities. I chose Temple Law because of its commitment to public interest, which stood out to me since my background was also in community advocacy; teaching, documenting, and working in bilingual communities.

At the same time, I could have chosen Temple Law solely for its Law & Public Policy Program (L&PP) led by Professor Nancy Knauer. The Temple L&PP program provides Scholars critical research skills, public speaking opportunities, and essential legal tools for understanding the policy that impacts U.S. laws. It also looks at the ways policy, social justice, and political opinions are woven together to predict the development of laws in the U.S. The program is multi-disciplinary and affords Temple law students in Philadelphia the opportunity to develop careers and academic experiences in two cities, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

There are two sections of the L&PP Scholars program, both led by Professor Knauer.

In L&PP I, students spend the summer in Washington, D.C., where they combine work and internship experience with evening classes in statutory interpretation, policy briefing, and focused policy writing. Through the program, Professor Knauer ensures that students have a variety of forums for networking and building connections with fellow students, legal professionals, and carefully selected mentors in D.C.

When students return to Philadelphia for the fall semester, they begin L&PP II, which focuses on policy at the local level. Scholars analyze and develop collaborative case statements and individual policy proposals on decisions facing Philadelphia City Council.

As a current Scholar, I can attest not only to the value of networking, but also to the opportunity to engage in student-driven policy initiatives that relate to human rights, community development, and environmental awareness. Networking is important not only for learning more about a field of interest – it can also help place a student in a great job environment.

“Professor Knauer teaches students to see the big picture – to connect immediate goals for policy and social change with broader goals of understanding the time and processes needed to impact that change at local, state, and federal government levels.”

During my first semester as an L&PP Scholar, I worked at the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and developed a policy paper on Environmental Justice and Goods Movement, which involves the transportation of cargo and freight nationwide. I researched the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which guides the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. Through research, I applied case studies documenting communities’ challenges and successes in petitioning their governments for increased protections for human health and establishing safeguards during infrastructural development. Thanks to Professor Knauer and the L&PP Program, I presented my paper at an Annual Mid-Atlantic Law & Society Association conference in New York, and I will present again at the Annual Law and Society Association meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

My unique law school experience would not be possible without the faculty at Temple Law and the committed mentorship and leadership from Professor Knauer. Professor Knauer teaches students to see the big picture – to connect immediate goals for policy and social change with broader goals of understanding the time and processes needed to impact that change at local, state, and federal government levels. Professor Knauer encourages confidence in her students to interview with boldness, ask questions, and to be persistent in establishing meaningful connections within the legal community. A message from Professor Knauer in the early fall semester encouraged me to participate in a day-long interviewing session in D.C., which led to a recent summer offer in the Office of General Counsel at EPA. Maintaining contact with fellow students, Temple Law faculty, and mentors, helps build our identities as advocates and law professionals. Working together rather than working within a silo accomplishes some of our greatest and most difficult goals. Advocacy through collaboration is a technique that Professor Knauer and the L&PP program instills.

The L&PP program encourages Scholars to put our doctrinal legal studies into life practice. It encourages Scholars to contribute to our societies, whether in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., or abroad. There is no other program in the country that links law and policy to illuminate the texts that we study and the positive work that we can accomplish as law students and lawyers.

Questions about this post? Drop us a line at lawcomm@temple.edu.