My name is Coker Holmes, and I am a Senior Environmental Studies and Political Science double major. I came to OBXFS because I plan on studying environmental law and was attracted to the environmental economics and coastal law and policy classes of the program. This semester I have been interning at the Law Offices of Hornthal, Riley, Ellis & Maland, L.L.P., in Columbia, North Carolina. Columbia is a small town of 900 in Tyrrell County, NC on the Scuppernong River. This internship has given me a great perspective on what it is like to practice general law in rural North Carolina.
My internship mentor is David Gadd, JD, the firm’s partner who runs the Columbia office. He has a B.S. in Forestry Management from NC State and a law degree from Florida State University with a concentration in environmental and land use law. He has taken me under his wing and given me education and experience in his practice specialties, including environmental law and zoning/land use, criminal defense, local government, real estate development/transactions, and civil litigation. Mr. Gadd is always thinking of new legal matters he can expose me to and has always been eager to answer questions and teach me the nuances and history of North Carolina law.
In the office I have gained experience helping to draft a plethora of legal documents. Everything from Wills, Powers of Attorney, LLC Articles of Organization, Restraining Order reductions, Guardianship appointments for minors, real estate deeds, permitting documents for local agricultural drainage districts, etc. has fallen on my desk at some point this semester. Watching Mr. Gadd work in court has also been very educational. I have observed everything from restraining order and divorce proceedings to juvenile hearings to DWI and possession defense.
In addition to the Field Site’s environmental law and economics curriculum, this internship has given me a broad exposure to the field of law. As an undergraduate it can be difficult to get exposure and education in the legal field. I started the semester with only basic knowledge and interest in environmental law, but this internship has broadened my interest within the legal profession and given me a good idea of what it’s actually like to practice various forms of law. This has been a great experience and resume-builder that I would recommend for any environmental student interested in law.