Legal Research with a Mission

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By: Connor Godfrey

This summer, I have the privilege of working for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in the Bank Advisory Group of the Chief Counsel’s Office as a summer clerk from the University at Buffalo School of Law. Broadly stated, we provide legal advice to help the agency in its mission to ensure that the public has fair access to and fair treatment in a structurally sound banking system.

The assignments that I have been given as a summer clerk have been challenging and rewarding with a clear connection to the agency mission. This has included a range of legal research and other relevant tasks which may serve to guide policy decision or assess the impact of current policy. I have had the opportunity to listen in on staff meetings with the highest levels of leadership, and work with Counsel on a range of issues that support the initiatives of the agency.

While COVID-19 has unfortunately prevented me from working with my supervisors and fellow clerks in person, this has not been as problematic as I feared. Legal research can easily be performed remotely, and supervisors remain responsive to any questions that may arise. I certainly wish I could get to know people in person rather than through a screen, perhaps spending time in Washington DC bars and museums with the other clerks after work, but I am glad that I am still able to build some connections.

Even more so than the legal knowledge and research skills that I am building in my time at the OCC, I truly value the opportunity that I have been given to work with a passionate and talented group of individuals who are committed to making an impact through their public service. Having begun my term at the OCC shortly after the current Comptroller (agency head) was appointed by the President, one of my first Zoom meetings at the agency was an agency-wide conference call in which the Comptroller provided an overview of his priorities for his term, highlighting the need to ensure broader public access to financial services. After the call, I told my supervisor that it was great that the Comptroller sounded committed to providing more than just lip-service toward building an economy that is not only more productive but also more inclusive. He laughed, “Well, of course – that’s part of our mission!”

I am grateful for the support from the Graham Koehler Public Interest Fellowship.


Image 2Name: Connor Godfrey, ’21

Name of Fellowship: Graham Koehler Public Interest Fellowship

Placement: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

Location: Washington, DC

One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship:“From this experience, I learned that work is more interesting when it serves a mission.”