UC Law SF Students Tackle Environmental, State Prison Issues in California DOJ Internships

Justin Pedroso ’25 and Natalie Dybeck ’25 spent their summers working on issues related to environmental law and state prisons in their internships with the California Department of Justice. 

With one year of law school under their belts, UC Law SF students Natalie Dybeck ’25 and Justin Pedroso ’25 wrote motions and briefs for active court cases in their summer internships with the California Attorney General (AG)’s Office.

Dybeck, who grew up in Marin County, is working on environmental justice cases in the Natural Resources and Environmental Law Sections of the office’s Public Rights Division in Sacramento. Her work included researching complex legal issues, investigating claims for potential new cases, and writing parts of a brief for an upcoming court hearing.

“California is a leader in climate policy, and the AG’s Office is doing meaningful work ensuring Californians have clean water, air, and overall healthier lives,” she said. “I’m honored to get to play a very small role in that work, especially given the wildfires, droughts, and floods California has recently suffered.”

Dybeck, who previously worked for the Marin County Fire Department and a U.S. congressman, said she also got to sit in on depositions and high-level meetings and see firsthand how the AG’s Office decides which cases to pursue.

“This experience has helped me better understand what an average day may look like as an attorney in a governmental office and provided me experience with both client communications and work product,” she said. “This internship has also been special to me as I have now worked in county, state, and federal government.”

On top of her full-time internship, Dybeck is also recruiting UC Law SF alumni this summer for the Women’s Law Society’s alumni mentorship program, working part-time as a research assistant with Professor David Takacs investigating Endangered Species Act-related issues, and volunteering with the County of Marin.

Pedroso, who grew up in Sacramento, is working this summer on cases involving state prisons with California Department of Justice’s Correctional Law Section in Los Angeles. His work has included drafting motions for court cases, sitting in on depositions and settlement conferences, and interviewing inmates and staff members at state prisons.

“This work is important because it ensures constitutional rights within the prison system are respected,” he said. “Hearing out inmate claims and assisting the state legal system in sorting out these lawsuits is vital for keeping the courts functioning and preventing them from being overloaded.”

Pedroso said he has gained crucial legal experience this summer and learned a lot about the state’s prison system. Some highlights included getting to meet California Attorney General Rob Bonta and speaking with prisoners about their experiences in the system.

“This internship has reaffirmed that public service is the route for me,” he said. “While I am absolutely open to working for law firms after graduation, I know that my overall career goal will be returning to public service and becoming a government attorney.”

Pedroso and Dybeck’s internships were funded by the Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation (HPILF), which awards grants each year to law students who take positions at nonprofit and government agencies that serve the public interest; positions that would otherwise be unpaid. The grants are made possible by money raised by HPILF and funds donated by alumni and allocated by Chancellor & Dean David Faigman.