Ashley Slisz '17L
What did you do for work this summer?
I worked for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Disclosure Unit in Washington, D.C.
How did you find/get this position?
I found this job through Symplicity, but I also spoke with a 3L who worked for the agency last summer and she helped me apply for the job. I would definitely recommend speaking to someone who has or has had a job that you want. It may not only help you get the job, but it helps you learn more about the position and manage your expectations.
Describe your work experience.
My duties included speaking with whistleblowers, gathering more information about their allegations, helping my supervising attorney determine if the allegations met our threshold, and writing the President of the United States letters informing him of the outcome of the agency's investigations. I also had the opportunity to attend Senate hearings and the annual Whistleblower Summer Summit.
What were some skills you developed this summer?
A skill that I improved on through my summer internship was being able to intelligently speak with someone about an intricate technical issue in which I did not have background experience. Most of the whistleblowers' allegations were about agency issues that I did not have any background in. Therefore, I needed to be able to adjust to each case and figure out which questions I needed to ask in order to gather more information. At first this was very difficult, but after speaking with a few whistleblowers about complex issues, I honed in on certain techniques that I could use to help me get the information I needed out of the conversation and understand the whistleblowers' allegations.
What classes or experiences were useful in preparing you for the summer work?
Definitely Administrative Law with Professor Carr. Having the background about what an agency does and how it operates helped me my first few weeks with putting into context where I was within the agency and how the agency operates with the other branches of government. OSC works with a lot of different agencies and it is necessary to have a good grasp of Administrative Law going in. Professional Responsibility also helped because I interacted with lawyers outside of my agency about issues pertaining to the whistleblowers and being aware of certain professional rules allowed me to do my job professionally. Lastly, Legal Writing is a class that is necessary to any legal job. Employers expect you to know how to write coming in and the OSC was no exception.
What surprised you about the work you did this summer?
This was the first time I worked for the government and seeing how much works goes into one small agency really surprised me. The work OSC Disclosure Unit does is important and helps keep the government agencies in check. OSC always has a heavy caseload and it sometimes felt like my desk was overflowing with files. But the attorneys that I worked with really care about their jobs and put a lot of time and thought into every tiny decision that they have to make.
Has this experience helped you figure out post graduate plans, and if so, how?
This experience showed me a different side to the law that I was unaware of-the regulatory industry of the law. I had worked for law firms and judges but I had never worked for a government agency. This experienced allowed me to explore the regulatory side of the law and is an area I am now considering practicing in my career.