Employee Spotlight: Jesse Barrad

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Our “Employee Spotlight Series” will share with you who the people working behind the scenes to bring justice to our clients and their environments. This series will include interviews from both our Akron and Pittsburgh offices to give you an idea of who are and what we do.

The employee spotlight this week is Jesse Barrad who will be here from May until the beginning of August. He is from Media, Pennsylvania. He studied as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh where he got his B.A in Political Science and Philosophy. He is currently pursuing a JD/MA at the Wake Forest University School of Law. He is interning at Fair Shake for the Summer.

Q: Tell me how you first got involved with Fair Shake?  

A: I am interested in environmental issues and was hoping to do something related to environmental law for my final summer internship of law school. I also wanted to come back to Pittsburgh, and Fair Shake seemed like an interesting opportunity to learn more about environmental law as well as working for a non-profit organization.

Q: What’s a day like at Fair Shake for you so far?

A: A typical day involves continuing work on a few long-term research projects while also taking new assignments from our attorneys. This might be drafting legal documents, reaching out to clients, or researching legal questions. My long-term projects involve researching and collecting information about zoning ordinances in Allegheny County and how they can be used to make progress on local environmental issues.

 Q: What is your favorite memory for your internship?

A: My favorite memory from work so far was when Ryan, our supervising attorney, gave me a brand-new case that nobody else had worked on yet. This was the first case I worked on and I was excited about being trusted to do my own background research and figure out what was going on so I could brief the rest of the firm on the issue and work together to figure out how to help this client.

Q: What's a common question you get from people?  

A: A common question I get is why environmental law. It is not the most conventional route for law students. My answer is that I find it interesting, it presents interesting issues. It helps people who may not have ability or resources to help themselves or to seek that help.  

Q: What do you like the most about interning at Fair Shake?

A: I enjoy the small size of our operation here at Fair Shake because it allows me to get more involved and collaborate on the issues we handle. The attorneys here encourage the interns to contribute their own ideas and get involved on projects that interest us, which not only helps projects get done for the firm, but also creates a productive learning environment for us interns.

Q: What has surprised you most about working with Fair Shake?  

A: It's not super surprising, but the passion that everyone has for these issues. Take Josh, our Director of Marketing, as an example. He is not a lawyer or law student, but he is as passionate about environmental law as anyone in this office and makes a point to stay caught up with a lot of our cases and issues. Whether it is legal work or community outreach activities, everyone that works here is passionate and motivated to help people and make a difference.

 Q: What do you wish other people knew about Fair Shake?  

A: That they exist and that other organizations like them exist, especially in the non-profit world. From a law student's perspective, there is a lot of pressure to pursue that big profit-motivated law firm job. But organizations like Fair Shake and the people that we serve depend on people with the same skills and expertise and who also have the passion to commit themselves to this work.

 Q: Why do you think the work that is done at Fair Shake is important? 

A: Fair Shake and the attorneys who work here recognize the need for skilled legal professionals who are motivated by something greater than just dollar signs. The field of environmental law is one that often does not offer big rewards, and what's quite common is that the only reward is one person no longer suffering an injury. Whether it's a passion for environmental issues or a passion for helping people, everyone here seems to have some greater purpose they are working for.

 Q: What do you like to do when you are not working?  

A: School keeps me very busy, but in my free time I like to exercise, play basketball, and support my Philadelphia Eagles. I also love spending time with my family and playing outside with my dog, Cooper.

 Q: What might someone be surprised to know about you?  

It depends who you ask. When I reconnect with friends from home, they are sometimes surprised to learn that I'm in law school and pursuing a career in environmental law. On the other hand, someone who knows me from law school or my internships might be surprised to learn that my plans for after high school originally involved playing college football or going to culinary school.

Q: What is your favorite skill that you have unrelated to what you do at Fair Shake?

A: Having spent a handful of summers as a summer camp counselor, I have gotten pretty quick at building fires, assembling tents, and other camping activities. In addition to that, I'd like to think I have a pretty decent jump shot playing basketball.