From an early age, Drake Law School student Rebecca Barloon expressed a strong interest in Iowa’s distinct landscape – and agrarian economics.
“Growing up in Iowa sparked my awareness of agricultural trade,” says Barloon, who is originally from Iowa City. “I started asking questions from an early age about how the state’s expanses of corn and soybeans were cultivated and to whom they were sold.”
This past summer, pursuing her passion led Barloon to an internship with the Agricultural Affairs division of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Located in Washington, D.C., the office serves as America’s chief trade negotiator and principal trade adviser to the president.
“The most valuable part of my experience was the opportunity to work with experts and learn firsthand how trade policy is crafted, implemented and enforced,” Barloon says.
Applying internship skills
Back in Des Moines for her second year at Drake, she is looking forward to applying the skills she learned while working in the executive office to her coursework.
“I have the chance to combine my interest in the international trade of agricultural products with classes relating to agricultural law,” Barloon says. “More fully understanding the role of the legal system in our national agricultural system will better prepare me to tackle the complex challenges that international trade issues present.”
During her internship, Barloon participated in interagency meetings on the formulation of U.S. agricultural trade policy and international negotiation.
She also researched international trade policies relating to halal, an Islamic legal term designating permissible objects and actions.
“Halal is a way of living, but it also influences trade,” Barloon says. “The USTR is interested in better understanding halal policies and standards, as some countries and organizations are requiring strict halal adherence throughout production, which may complicate and restrict U.S. exports to these regions. It has been fascinating to study the way law and religion interact globally to impact trade.”
Skills to success
Neil Hamilton, director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center and Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law, advised Barloon on domestic and international agricultural law internships available during the summer. The center provides summer stipends to law students who work for public agencies and organizations involved in food and agricultural policy.
“Professor Hamilton provided me with a wealth of information,” Barloon says. “He gave me valuable advice and helped me decide which internship would best suit my interests and career goals and encouraged me to pursue a position with the USTR.”
“I am very proud of Ms. Barloon and commend her for arranging an internship with the USTR,” Hamilton says. “This valuable experience gave her the opportunity to be involved with shaping U.S. trade policy and to make connections that will benefit her career.”
While conducting research and formulating public policy in D.C., Barloon relied on the skills she learned in Drake Law School classrooms. She credits Drake with providing her with a firm foundation for the internship.
“Drake’s focus on developing practical legal research and writing skills is critical to the success of any legal or policy-based internship,” she says. “The Agricultural Law Society has introduced me to the vast array of contemporary agricultural law issues. I’m excited to practice international law with a focus on agriculture and trade.”