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Q&A with Energy Student - Ellie Hardwick

July 10, 2020

Anyone will tell you that law school is not easy. From cold calling to appellate, journals to bar prep, it's a very busy three years. Add on top of that a Masters degree in Energy Regulation and Law, work as a Research Associate in the IEE, Advanced Clinician work in the Energy Clinic, member of the Energy Law Society AND participation in Moot Court and it's amazing JD/MERL 2021 Ellie Hardwick found time to chat with us! We are delighted she did, because talking to Ellie is always a joy (especially when she brings her sweet pup, Tallulah, with her!)

Ellie Hardwick

Question: Where are you from? What did you study in undergrad?
Ellie: Greensboro, NC but went to undergrad at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. At NC State double majored in Environmental Science (BS) and Political Science (BS) with minors is Economics and Renewables Energy Assessment. 

Q: What led you to graduate school at VLS?
I graduated from undergrad knowing I wanted to focus on energy law and policy. I looked at various programs, but I knew I wanted to attend VLS to pursue the JD/MERL. There was more energy courses and opportunities than any other school.

Q: Tell us a bit about your time at Vermont Law School. What program are you in and why did you choose this course of study?
I am a 2L in the joint degree program for JD and Masters in Energy Regulation and Law (MERL). I became interested in energy because of how multidisciplinary the topic is. It affects so many aspects of life and is an excellent opportunity to address climate change. I was initially interested in the science behind various energy sources, but I wanted to make a difference and influence the development of clean energy. That is what drew me to the law and policy side of the JD/MERL.

Q: You have been involved in both the Energy Clinic and the Research Associate programs here as part of your MERL degree. Can you tell me a bit about your time in these programs and how they’ve enhanced your education experience here? 
These programs, especially the Energy Clinic, have allowed me to apply what I have learned in courses to real-life scenarios. I have learned in theory what it takes to develop a renewable energy project, but the Energy Clinic has given me the opportunity to see how the process unfolds in real life. I have gained land use experience with regards to various permits, transactional experience for project development, client relationship skills, improved my legal research and writing skills, practiced working in a team setting, and so much more. 

Q: You are also on our Spring 2020 energy moot court team! How’s that going? What are you most excited about and nervous about for the upcoming competition in March?
So far, it’s been an amazing experience! A lot of work, but so rewarding. My team has worked really hard and really well together. We turned in our brief February 3rd, and now we are beginning the process of oral argument preparation. In March we will compete in West Virginia at the National Competition. I think what I am most excited about is working with my team and seeing how well we do at competition. It will also be interesting to see what other schools will be there and witness other students. I am probably most nervous about oral arguments, but after my team has practiced more, I know we will be prepared and do well.
Q: Tell us about your future. What do you hope to do once you graduate? 
I am not quite sure exactly what sector I want to be in once I graduate, but I do know I want to help the US transition to a clean energy mix and promote the modernization of the electric grid and transmission system. I am open to various opportunities such as a law firm, non-profit, governmental agency, utility, or other entity. I am hoping my MERL externship this summer and my SIP next Spring will help me determine what type of environment I want to work in.

Q: What will you miss most about VLS after you graduate?
I will miss the outdoors the most after I graduate. I have really enjoyed how close VLS is to outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, and much more. Last summer my dog and I would go to the river right by the school, and she would swim in it and have a blast. I will miss those days.

Q: Any advice for a future MERL student?
I would advise getting involved in any of the opportunities the IEE offers whether that’s the Energy Clinic, Research Associate, or doing a side project with a staff member in the IEE. These opportunities will allow you to apply what you have learned in courses to real-life problems and projects. The Energy Clinic has been extremely rewarding for me. 

Q: Random fact about Ellie!
  When I studied abroad in Denmark, I was able to climb a wind turbine!