Even before coming to law school at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, Jacob Bandas knew he wanted to work on government natural resource issues. This strong desire to work in natural resource law made him a good candidate for the Dewsnup Fellowship.
The Dewsnup Fellowship is provided through the generosity of alum Calvin E. Clark (class of ’56). It honors his good friend and classmate, Richard L. Dewsnup, the first Solicitor General of the State of Utah and an outstanding natural resources lawyer.
The fellowship recipient receives a grant for the second year of law school and a paid summer clerkship with the chief of the Natural Resources Division of the Attorney General’s Office.
Bandas knew this valuable opportunity would be perfectly in line with his career goals.
“During my interview, I was honest when I told my interviewer that I might not have the best grades, and I might not have the most legal experience, but I will work my absolute tail off,” he said. “I think my resumé demonstrated my commitment to this career path and I expressed my eagerness to do the rush projects, long hours, or anything else necessary.”
In this role, Bandas is creating memos that deal with novel or new legal issues, drafting and revising contracts, attending board meetings with the whole department, and learning about administrative law in a hands-on fashion.
Bandas hopes to continue working for a state or federal government office dealing with natural resource issues after graduating, with the eventual goal of transitioning to a position that focuses solely on policy.
“This opportunity is preparing me for that future by putting me in the middle of some of the most pressing and important issues facing Utah natural resources and providing experienced attorneys that are willing to teach and mentor me in this journey,” he said.
Learn more about Jacob and his summer position with this Q&A.
Why did this position at the Utah Attorney General’s Office interest you?
My career goal, even before coming to law school, was to work on government natural resource issues. I first found out about the Dewsnup Fellowship during the admissions process and working for the Utah Attorney General just seemed like it would be perfectly in line with my career goals. I was able to speak with a former Dewsnup Fellow during a networking event, and he was the one that sold me on the experience.
Why do you think you were selected for this position? What made you a good fit?
It is always hard to know why one person is chosen over another, but I like to think it was a combination of my resumé and my interview. Prior to law school I earned an M.S. in Natural Resource Management, and I spent a few summers as an EMT and law enforcement with the National Park Service. I also had time in the Yellowstone federal prosecutor’s office and a Texas oil & gas firm. During my interview, I was honest when I told my interviewer that I might not have the best grades, and I might not have the most legal experience, but I will work my absolute tail off. I think my resumé demonstrated my commitment to this career path and I expressed my eagerness to do the rush projects, long hours, or anything else necessary. I think I am a good fit in this office because everyone not only has a dedication to public service through law and natural resources, but because we have such a wide range of backgrounds. Many of us are not Utah natives, and we all had different experiences pre-law school, so the office is a great place for conversation or for just running ideas by someone with a different perspective.
What type of work are you doing on a day-to-day basis?
Right now, I am mostly working on memos dealing with novel or new legal issues, but I have also been able to get my hands on contract drafting and revising. I have also been able to sit-in on a couple board meetings within the Department and those have been a great experience.
What has been the best part about working at the Utah Attorney General’s Office?
The best part about the Natural Resource Division is the people, hands down. I am currently sharing an office with Maddie Whittier, rising 3L and O’Hara Fellow, and everyone in the office has been eager to get us involved. With a number of previous fellows still working in the office, it is nice having an immediate bonding experience. All of the attorneys are quick to offer advice, feedback, or just a pleasant conversation.
What is something you’ve learned while working at the Utah Attorney General’s Office?
As someone with only one year of law school under their belt, I have learned a lot about administrative law in the past four weeks. I look forward to taking an administrative law class soon so I can contextualize a lot of what I have been dealing with in the office.
What are your future career goals? How does this opportunity prepare you for your future?
After graduating, I hope to continue working for a state or federal government office dealing with natural resource issues. One day, I hope to transition to a pure policy position but I definitely want to get a solid legal foundation before making that move. This opportunity is preparing me for that future by putting me in the middle of some of the most pressing and important issues facing Utah natural resources and providing experienced attorneys that are willing to teach and mentor me in this journey.
What is something you’ve done this summer besides working for Utah Attorney General’s Office?
On the 4th of July, I got engaged to the most amazing woman in the world. I could not imagine going through all the struggles and triumphs of law school without her!