Fighting Crimes Against Nature
Junior attorney Allison Kvien ’13 takes on a big job in Wyoming, practicing environmental law.
After spending most of her life on the East Coast, Allison Kvien ’13 now finds herself transitioning into the role of assistant attorney general for Wyoming.
Kvien has been acting as second chair in settlement discussions, drafting complaints, and meetings with the Air Quality Division as she waits for her license to come through in Wyoming.
When she formally steps into the role, she’ll be the primary attorney for the Air Quality Division of Wyoming’s state environmental agency. This large responsibility is unique to Wyoming and one of the reasons she was drawn to the position.
“We have a small office and that means that the chain of command is fairly small and that means that I’m going to be able to take on responsibilities that I would never have the opportunity to take on in a much larger state, like New York or California, where there are far more attorneys,” says Kvien, who graduated with a major in environmental studies and minors in philosophy, anthropology, and political science. “So that means I’m going to be able to quickly develop skills that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to develop elsewhere until later on in my career.”
Kvien has only been out of law school for about a year; most junior attorneys wouldn’t be handling the same tasks for which she’ll be responsible. She’s ready for the challenge.
“In settlement negotiations, for instance, with companies that violate environmental laws, I might be negotiating with someone who has 30 years’ more experience than me, but I’m still going to be my client’s first, primary attorney,” she says.
Her courses at WC helped her through law school, especially her three diverse minors.
“I think every class I took helped me. Even my acting class,” says Kvien. “There’s some human element of drama in law—the theatrics [of the courtroom] and setting the stage for your case. You’re taking on a role as an attorney; you’re representing your client.”
Experiences from her undergraduate internships—including one at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crime Section—helped her secure legal internships in law school.
“It’s why I decided to go to law school, because I could see myself in that kind of role,” she says.
Throughout her time at University of Minnesota, she took on internships at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Region 5, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. After school, she became a legal fellow at Earthjustice in New York City. There, she was able to stress her commitment to serving public interest.
“I went into environmental law because I wanted to help people and because I care about the environment and I care about preserving it and having places where people can live healthy lives,” she says.
In Wyoming, she’ll be able to refine her skills to continue doing just that.
“I’m excited for all the different kinds of things that can make me a better attorney here.”