It was our great pleasure this summer to host OCJ’s inaugural policy interns, law students Megan Bryant-Tiktin (Lewis & Clark Law School), and Samantha Formica (Willamette University College of Law). Megan and Samantha brought curiosity, teamwork, and additional capacity to the policy team this summer. Both participated in a variety of activities and meetings with local and federal lawmakers. Additionally, each intern centered their research and energy toward discrete topics culminating in a final presentation and resource materials that the policy team will continue to reference and use in our work ahead. While Megan focused on rent-a-bank schemes as well as federal legislation, Samantha’s area of focus regarded auto financing scams.
Read the following Q&A with Megan and Samantha to hear more about their experiences this summer and next steps!
Q: How has your experience as an OCJ policy intern aligned with your expectations?
Megan: The amount of support and learning opportunities I received during my internship exceeded any expectations I had about what I would get during my time with OCJ. Prior to my internship with OCJ, I did not have any experience working in policy. I was not sure what to expect but was eager to learn as much as I could. Every person at OCJ was not only willing to help me learn but incredibly excited to support me during my internship. I was encouraged to ask questions, (even when I felt like it would be a silly one), I was invited to sit in on meetings, and given opportunities to debrief those meetings with my team. These experiences helped me feel like I was part of a team that cared about my growth and education this summer, which is a wonderful thing to get during an internship.
Samantha: My experience as an OCJ policy intern exceeded my expectations in every respect. The OCJ policy team offered excellent guidance, support, and experiential learning opportunities. The policy internship program challenges interns to conduct thorough legal research and develop policy solutions in an area of consumer injustice. OCJ has truly developed an invaluable internship experience centered around community learning, outreach, and advocacy.
Q: Share about significant work or projects you've been involved with during your policy internship.
Megan: During the beginning of the summer, my focus was on researching rent-a-bank schemes and payday lending practices. I spent many hours researching and reading reports from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Congress to compile resources that OCJ can use for future legislative sessions. I also drafted an issue brief on rent-a-bank schemes which can be used to help educate people both in and outside OCJ on the issue. I also worked with Chris Coughlin to schedule and meet with Oregon federal delegates and ask them to support the Prohibit Auto Insurance Discrimination (PAID) Act and the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act. I researched and drafted issue summaries on both bills and then discussed them directly with staff members of five Oregon federal delegates. These opportunities helped me learn about areas where consumers are vulnerable to unethical and unfair practices of large industries. It is exciting to know that there are organizations like OCJ that are working to address these issues and to have been a small part of that is incredibly rewarding.
Samantha: As an OCJ policy intern, I researched auto financing scams and devised potential state and national-level policy solutions. My investigation into auto financing scams taught me an extensive amount about the auto loan market, unfair and deceptive motor vehicle sales tactics, and the power of legislative action. I hope my work will positively impact the OCJ policy team’s advocacy goals and help strengthen consumer protections in the realm of auto financing.
Q: What skills or insights did you gain as an OCJ intern that will benefit your future career goals?
Megan: This internship exposed me to real-world advocacy experience I wouldn’t have received in the classroom. Observing the legislative process through an advocate lens has helped me think about the law more holistically. Now, when I read a case or a piece of legislation, my perspective is not limited to thinking about the intended parties but how this law may impact individuals and industries outside the scope of the ruling.
Samantha: As an OCJ intern, I gained insight into the level of dedication, commitment, and resilience it takes to be an advocate for consumers. The OCJ team is committed to advancing consumer rights, putting people first, and building strong relationships with underserved communities. Throughout my internship with OCJ, I learned the importance of strategic and inclusive thinking, in-depth research, attention to detail, and community awareness. The OCJ team encourages its interns to be innovators and zealous advocates in the consumer policy space.
Q: What comes next?
Megan: After my summer internship, I will begin my final year at Lewis & Clark Law School and continue my work with OCJ in the fall as an extern!
Samantha: After working as an OCJ policy intern, I plan to finish my legal education at Willamette University College of Law. My experience at OCJ has inspired me to continue pursuing a career in legal advocacy and social justice.
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