At the SEC, helping to safeguard investors
Jessica Chong in the Class of December 2017 is the latest to be featured in a series of profiles on Elon Law students whose summer internships offer new insights and knowledge into the legal profession.
In her first job out of the biological sciences program at North Carolina State University, Jessica Chong discovered just how much the pharmaceutical industry relies on the law to protect company’s that discover new medical treatments. A career change was soon in the works.
The native of Raleigh, North Carolina, is now in the final months of her Elon Law studies as she prepares for a career in either corporate law or, possibly, as a government lawyer. A recent summer internship with the SEC – Office of the Inspector General only heightened her interest in the opportunities to work on behalf of the United States government.
The Elon Law Leadership Fellow and president of the Intellectual Property Society is now preparing for her December graduation with a deeper understanding – and appreciation – for what the SEC’s Student Honors Program can provide enterprising law students.
It’s a program she can’t praise enough.
Chong is the latest to be featured in a series of summer employment profiles that showcase experiential learning opportunities for Elon Law students. The following conversation has been lightly edited.
What inspired you to pursue a legal education and a career in law?
As a science major and after working in the pharmaceutical industry, I saw how intellectual property–patent law specifically–could ultimately affect patients who rely on the medicine that patent owners hold. I wanted to join the legal profession to help businesses and government agencies provide timely, cost-efficient resources for the general public.
Tell me about the type of legal assignments you are completing this summer and the way in which your work is helping others.
My summer at the SEC – Office of the Inspector General involved researching legal issues in support of audits, assessing compliance of programs, and reviewing recent bills to keep the Commission and the OIG fully and currently informed of significant issues and developments. I also analyzed the recent Supreme Court case Kokesh v. SEC that rejected the SEC’s long established position that disgorgement was an equitable remedy and held that disgorgement is a penalty. I looked at the ramifications the case has on SEC enforcement cases and ultimately how it affects ordinary investors, like you and me.
What led you to this opportunity and how does it complement your interest in the law?
I wanted to use this summer to see what working for a federal agency would be like and there is no better place for this than D.C. Also, securities law is an important area of corporate law so I wanted to learn more about the SEC and its mission. The SEC runs a Student Honors Program over the summer in Washington, D.C. and their 11 regional offices and I applied through their website last fall.
My residency helped me see things from the perspective of a corporation in dealing with interactions between the corporation and the government. Now working at the SEC, I am getting to see things from the side of the federal government. The attorneys at Syngenta helped me craft my legal writing skills to write clearly and effectively keeping in mind the reader. My residency also taught me to ask the right questions when assigned a project from a supervising attorney to understand the purpose of the project. This has helped me to deliver a better work product in my projects at the SEC.
What are you learning about yourself as a result of this experience that wouldn’t have been possible in a classroom setting?
I’m getting to experience what working for a federal agency is like and to hear about the career paths of some great attorneys at the SEC. I’ve learned so much from them and they always have an open door to discuss legal issues or career advice with me.
Is this opportunity changing the way you view the legal profession?
My externship at the SEC has definitely changed my view of the legal profession. In class, we learn to analyze the law and apply it different cases. My summer at the SEC has given me a greater perspective on the law making process from analyzing various bills and attending Appropriations Committee hearings on Capitol Hill. Understanding Congress’ intent in passing bills has given me a greater appreciation for the laws it promulgates.
Describe how the Office of Career & Student Development assisted you in securing summer employment.
Jennifer Mencarini has reviewed several drafts of my resume and cover letters throughout my law school career. Both Melissa Duncan and Jennifer have been supportive and willing to work with me in figuring out how to maximize internship opportunities.
What would you like to share with other students about this internship and the skills you’ve developed because of it?
If you are interested in working in federal government or in learning more about securities law, the SEC is a great place to learn from some of the smartest and most talented attorneys. The Student Honors Program at the SEC also has a great intern program with a mentoring program, networking events like Nationals baseball games, and tours of the Supreme Court by one of Justice Gorsuch’s law clerks.
More than anything, I would say be willing to work hard and let that be your reputation. Professor Levine gave me great advice before the summer. He advised me to do good work and make sure the first assignment I turn is flawless because that can set your reputation for future work assignments. I’ve kept this in mind during my internship at the SEC and strive to exceed expectations in everything I turn in.
Visit the Office of Career & Student Development for more information on summer and full-time career opportunities.
Previous Summer Employment Profiles:
Aarin Miles (Class of December 2017)
Brittany Hart (Class of December 2017)
Gabe Mirabelli (Class of December 2017)
Janelle Wendorf (Class of December 2017)
Catherine Bryant (Class of 2018)
Maxwell Baker (Class of December 2017)
Andreas Mosby (Class of December 2017)
Samantha Mungro (Class of December 2017)