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Author: Rachel Blakemore

Rachel Blakemore / Author

<p>My name is Rachel Blakemore, I'm from Ann Arbor Michigan and I am currently in my final quarter of my 3rd year at Antioch College.</p> <p>I am an Environmental Science major my primary interests include fresh water aquatic species and aquatic based invasive species. <span style="text-decoration: underline;">Upon</span> graduate from Antioch I plan on attending law school to become an environmental attorney.</p> <p>I have gained great work experience through the Antioch College co-op program ranging from leadership facilitation on Fellowship Farms in Pottstown PA, paralegal work at Outten and Golden LLP in New York City, environmental non-profit work with Huron River Watershed Council in Ann Arbor MI and my current co-op as a Legal Aid. </p>

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Legal Aid Experience: Blakemore ’17 at McManus PLLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dec 08, 2016

For my final co-op before graduating from Antioch College, I am working at McManus PLLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law. I chose this co-op for a multitude of reasons ranging from its location in Ann Arbor, Michigan giving me an opportunity to live with my family before graduation to the fact that this firm dabbles in almost every form of law, ranging from class-action suits to business law. I hope that by working in an office with such a varied caseload I will be able to better understand the work and effort it takes to practice law, which will be of great use to me because this is the field I plan on going into once I graduate from Antioch.

Thus far this has been a great learning experience, though it is frustrating at times. I work at their office from 8 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and I work from home on Fridays. Most of my time is spent doing research for class-action suits and, though it is challenging, I have learned a lot about the discovery aspect of law, starting with just simplistic research through Google and ending on WestLaw comparing previous cases that may have similarities and help us determine whether we have a solid case. This research can take anywhere from a few days to weeks depending on how much information is provided to the public and how much of it we have to request.

Overall, I am enjoying my time at McManus PLLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law. This co-op experience has given me a lot to consider but has definitely confirmed that I do want to go into law once I graduate. Furthermore, it has also reassured me that, though all law is interesting, environmental law is definitely the path I want to take.

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“Excellence and Integrity Above All Else”: Blakemore ’17 at Outten and Golden LLP in New York City, NY

Feb 23, 2016

I work at Outten and Golden LLP, a law firm that focuses on workers’ rights. Their mission statement is “Excellence and Integrity Above All Else.” This means that we help those who need it whether it be smaller cases of reviewing severance agreements to make sure that those who are let go can live while looking for another job or larger cases that involve filing class-action suits for workers that have not been paid fair wages or have been unfairly terminated.

At Outten and Golden, I am a paralegal. The majority of my job involves speaking with potential clients, helping compile binders for cases, and making phone calls, but sometimes I am assigned filing and research related tasks when not enough people have the time.

My experiences here have been good. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I work in an office. This is really important for me because I plan on working in an office for much of my life due to my intended career path. However, the transition to having a nine to five job is very tiring and intense because of the drastic differences between office work and attending school. But, due to the great working environment that Outten and Golden provide, it was much easier than I expected.

My job has taught me a lot that I will be able to utilize in school and throughout life; I have learned how offices work, along with more about law and paralegal work which is of great use to me due to my long term goals of attending law school and becoming an environmental lawyer. And living in New York City has taught me a lot within itself. This combination of lessons has been really great but also left me exhausted and with a new outlook on how much more I have to learn.

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Creating a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion: Blakemore ’17 at the Huron River Watershed Council in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Feb 11, 2016

This co-op I am working in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Huron River Watershed Council, a nonprofit coalition that coordinates programs and volunteer efforts aimed at helping restore the Huron River and maintaining a healthy environment around and within the Huron River Watershed, which spans over 900 square miles in Southwestern Michigan.

I am working on starting up a diversity and inclusion project for Huron River Watershed Council, which entails expanding the diversity of our volunteer base along with the workplace as a whole. I have set about doing this in multiple ways. Within the workplace, I reviewed all of the organization’s HR policies along with all contracts and literature that are shared with the general public to make sure that the language and procedures were all-inclusive. I have continued going through all of these files, making recommendations that will help foster a safe workplace for an increase in diversity. Additionally, I have been working with other nonprofits learning how they have increased diversity and inclusion through their paperwork.

The other angle we have been approaching the diversity and inclusion project with is education. To do this we are trying to teach more students the basics of what watersheds are and more about their local one in the hopes that we spark their interest enough to increase youth volunteer rates at our organization.

Working on a diversity and inclusion project has left me (ironically) rather isolated, so I am not truly a part of many of the social dynamics within the office. But overall the organization, with only 13 full-time staff members, is rather tight-knit with social groups forming within each office and outside of them. However, people get work completed at different paces and many members have different end goals in mind for the project which can cause clashes within the team.

Working on this project with only three other people has made this project a lot easier to manage because I don’t have to go through as many people for their approval, and we don’t have as many differences in opinions or visions of the project. But even so, there are still some disagreements and misunderstandings within the project planning group.

Thus far I have had a great co-op with the Huron River Watershed Council. I have enjoyed the experiences I have had while working here and I have learned so much about nonprofit policies, what it takes to run a nonprofit, how to reach out to potential volunteers, and much more. I am even attempting to create an internship opportunity with the Huron River Watershed Council for my old high school.

Photo credit: Marc Akemann