Thursday, February 6, 2014

Experiential Learning: Externships with Walmart's Legal Division

The LL.M. Program provides experiential opportunities for students to work with professionals in the agricultural or food law sector.  Experiential opportunities usually take place in the spring semester so that students can assess their interests in the field and focus on developing relevant legal background during the fall semester. 

This spring, we have five LL.M. students participating in experiential opportunities: Erin Shirl and Kathryn Smith are externing with Walmart, a recurring extern host with the LL.M. Program; Sonia Sylls is working with the Sustainability Consortium, a first-time partner with the LL.M. Program; and Kelly Damewood and Lauren Bernadett are doing projects with AllenOlson, who taught Federal Farm Programs last semester.

We are running a series of blog posts featuring our students’ work with each of the externship hosts.  This first post features Kathryn and Erin’s work with Walmart.

Kathryn Smith
Kathryn and Erin and both externing in Walmart’s Legal Division.  They are working with Don Wiseman, a long-time friend of the LL.M. Program and an experienced attorney assigned to Food Compliance and Product Safety Compliance, and Amy White, an alumna of the LL.M. Program with Walmart’s Food Compliance Division.  

Kathryn is primarily working with Don in the Food Compliance department, which oversees food safety and food labeling issues.  She anticipates that her work might include the newest Farm Bill and the Food Safety Modernization Act.  Her other work will depend on issues that arise during her time there.

Kathryn has been pleased to find that the people with whom she works at Walmart are taking her interests into consideration to guide her assignments.  Additionally, they are taking the time to connect her with others in the Walmart family with whom her interests align.

Erin Shirl
Erin accepted an extern position with the Food Safety and Health division, and primarily works with Amy on food labeling issues. 

Erin says that working on compliance and labeling issues is as fast-paced as you might expect with a company as large as Walmart.  She is impressed by her division’s ability to streamline its work, made possible by the Food Safety team’s incredible dedication.  Erin reports that she is enjoying her work with Walmart and is currently working on some very interesting research projects.

Erin and Kathryn have already had the opportunity to be involved in corporate meetings at Walmart and they agree that their supervisors are great about showing them the behind-the-scenes work at the world’s largest retailer.


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