Anne Mariah Tapp is a Law and Public Policy Fellow for the Grand Canyon Trust. For her, there is truly no such thing as a “typical day.” In recent months, she has been on river trips with donors raising money for new programs; challenged an air quality permit before a state air quality board using the Clean Air Act; worked on a challenge to a Bureau of Land Management decision in federal court based on the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act; and even worked on obtaining ungrazed areas in Southern Utah for science reference purposes. According to Tapp, the only generalities about her job are that she writes every day and learns about a new area of the law about every month.
I asked our executive director what type of experiences I could seek after graduating to be a competitive candidate in a few years if they ever wanted to hire another lawyer. In short, I ended up working on a contract basis for the Trust for a few months, and then was offered a full time position.
Colorado Law professors with a long history of service on the Grand Canyon Trust board, introduced me to our executive director, and advocated for me throughout my hiring process.
For the litigation aspects of my work, I use the legal skills – most usually legal writing, which ranges from briefs to public comments to internal memos – on a regular basis. I also use my broader knowledge of public land management, gained from Colorado Law, to bolster the Grand Canyon Trust’s program work. For example, I’ll work with our Utah Forest Program on the U.S. Forest Service’s different options for grazing allotment management to help them determine how to direct their policy advocacy work with the U.S. Forest Service. Also, law school teaches you how to work long hours, which is needed when you are working for a non-profit.
Become the best writer that you possibly can, and make sure that everything that you put out as your work product is your very best effort; you never know who will see it or what impact it could have. Decide where you want to live and who you want to work for and start building relationships with that organization. Be open to non-conventional arrangements such as part-time or contract work, but also keep your eyes open to whether a long-term possibility exists or whether you are being taken advantage of.
The network I established at Colorado Law, both with fellow students and with professors, has been instrumental in launching my career. Two professors and mentors, Sarah Krakoff and Charles Wilkinson, are board members for the Grand Canyon Trust. In another example, one of my close friends from law school is now executive director of a conservation organization that we partner with on a regular basis. On a personal level, friends from law school have migrated to the four corners area so I have friends in odd places, ranging from Towoac to Shiprock, which makes my long drives much more enjoyable.