Jamie Mitrovic

Law Career Services for students and alumni.

JD Student Spotlight: Jamie Mitrovic

A 3L student at Seton Hall Law, Jamie Mitrovic has worked for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel in the Department of the Treasury, PSE&G, and the Urban Resource Institute. During her undergraduate tenure at New York University, where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Global Public Health, Jamie served as a student researcher at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences in St. George’s, Bermuda. At Seton Hall Law, Jamie is President of the Environmental and Energy Law Society, as well as a member of LALSA, LAMBDA Law Alliance, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Tell us a little about yourself. What brought you to law school?
At around 18 years old, I felt law school was not a place for a young Latina woman like myself. After taking a Constitutional Law class in my sophomore year at NYU, I steered clear of the idea of going to law school, instead delving deeper into the sciences—exploring coding, environmental science, business, and public health classes. After three years working in the solar energy industry permitting solar and battery storage systems in New York City, I grew a desire to be part of larger-scale renewable energy projects. I enjoyed permitting for residential and commercial systems but became interested in utility-scale projects of all sorts (including off-shore wind); therefore, I went to law school!

What is different about working at the AG’s office ?
Working at the AG’s office was a great experience. Being surrounded by so many attorneys from diverse backgrounds doing different kinds of work for New Jersey is a great introduction to the various areas of a legal career.

Has law school been what you expected? Why or why not?
Well, I can assure you that I still do not enjoy Constitutional Law, but law school is better and more multifaceted than I could have imagined. In particular, the communities I have joined within the law school organizations provided a space to network as a 1L (even with little to no experience) and a 2L/3L who is finding their way. Moreover, reading Road to 1L and speaking to many law school students set up legitimate expectations regarding managing my interpersonal relationships and knowing what to expect for 1L classes. Lastly, SHL has pleasantly provided more electives for my specialty of Energy Law than I initially thought.

What do you consider to be your biggest success during law school, either professionally or personally?
Likely, the number of internships I have experienced in addition to extracurricular activities in public service with a focus on environmental justice and diversity. Uniquely, I knew I wanted to practice Energy Law upon entering law school and even wrote about it in my entrance essays. But I also enjoy public service.

My very first legal internship involved representing immigrant domestic violence victims, which was extremely rewarding. Not only did it help me connect to my roots, as I had to conduct interviews entirely in Spanish while taking notes in English, but I was gaining work experience outside of my pre-declared area of interest. Along the way, I was also able to work for the New York Waterfront Commission, engaging in investigative work to keep the ports safe from organized crime activity. This internship expanded my knowledge of infrastructure, something I am interested in as a utility nerd, for the shipping industry and its associated environmental crimes. Finally, my last few internships included legal work in the energy industry, and these have been my most fulfilling experiences.

Trying new things and being reaffirmed of my love and skill in Energy Law has been satisfying and exciting. My most recent internship even allowed me to tour a nuclear facility—a dream of mine.

You were in a pretty bad biking accident last year. How has that changed your life perspective and/or your career outlook? When faced with this incredible setback, how have you been able to heal, reset, and continue your legal journey?
When I started law school, my life was more stable than ever. Never could I have imagined the amount of change the following years brought. The more my responsibilities grew for myself and my family, the more self-reliant I had to become, regardless of the instability.  My world came crashing down after being struck by a vehicle, and still to this day, I am unsure how I could have survived being struck from behind on a straight road by a sober, but distracted driver at 50mph. Recently, a U.S. National Team cyclist died in the exact same fact pattern and I cannot help but feel a deep sense of remorse and empathy for this stranger who was only 17 years old and clearly a more-than-capable cyclist.

In the past 10 months post-accident, I have worked more hours than I ever have before…between my ongoing recovery, school, work, and family responsibilities. I am so grateful for my friends' brief moments with me over the past ten months. From crying to laughing, we’ve done it all.

Recently, I traveled to Honduras, a country I grew up in—in addition to the United States. This is where my gratitude post-accident found a sense of peace in all the chaos and anger. Returning to my second home of Honduras post-accident and post-working at PSE&G, I could reflect on how witnessing the stark contrast of this developing nation’s lack of access to secure utilities (water, electricity, cable) has made me who I am today.  I love Honduras and I love America. I dream of the day I graduate from law school and have passed the bar, with the horrible nightmare of the past ten months behind me. It’ll be sweeter than the mangoes I pick off the trees in Honduras. It’ll be something that the 10-year-old Jamie who played soccer on Campo Lampira with all the boys, because girls’ teams didn’t exist, could have never dreamed of. Although I am still recovering, and thus continuing physical therapy and trying to balance when I get surgery/surgeries with when I will take my bar exam, I am so happy to be alive...and I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished.

You are interested in environmental/energy law. What have been some experiences that have solidified your interest in this area of the law?
Amid all the tragedy I faced during law school, I took electives in environmental law, energy law, zoning, construction law, and cryptocurrency law. The deep passion that I felt while in these classes despite my physical injuries and disabilities from the accident (including the inability to read because of hemorrhaging in my brain and the inability to write due to my dominant arm being disabled) reminded me that I could work in this industry for the rest of my life.

Professor Payne is a large reason why I chose Seton Hall Law above many of the tri-state schools, and she has not disappointed me. Being one of the only female law school professors who teaches environmental law and energy law in this geographic area (as well as one of the only professors [regardless of gender] who is an expert in both environmental and energy law) I felt lured to the school. She has been such an incredible resource and has furthered my interests in environmental justice, constantly providing me with fantastic legal resources and flagging the most significant moral dilemmas our society faces with the environment today.

How did you find job opportunities in the environmental/energy law field? Are there any classes, opportunities, and/or mentors that have inspired your passion for environmental/energy law?
My job opportunities have primarily come from networking and engaging with countless attorneys and professors regarding environmental/energy law topics. Naturally, this is something I am very informed about, so conversation comes easy. Often I find myself simply chatting with attorneys, and then the conversation shifts to a pre-interview.

Professor Payne has been a large inspiration to me, as well as Professor Borgen and Professor Misdary. I enjoy grassroots organizing, and the latter professors have supported my efforts in connecting with the local Newark community. Moreover, I have been mentored by different attorneys in the Latin American and Energy Law communities. The paths to job placement in this industry are open and ready to be taken by those interested. I am just lucky enough to have found an industry I genuinely love, with the added benefit of it not being overly saturated with competition or negativity that can be associated with other legal fields.

What advice do you have for someone who is just starting law school and/or who might face adversities that could threaten their straight path to achieving their goals? How will you measure your success as an attorney?
There is no way to anticipate all the changes law school will bring, but being organized and practicing self-empowerment and gratitude will get anyone far. I keep a pack of thank you cards, often writing gratitude letters to friends, family, or attorneys who have helped me along the way. I usually also reflect on the fact that there was a point in my life where I thought becoming an attorney was unachievable, and I think about how far I have come.  Reminding myself of my privileges (being in such a high-level institution and having the ability to speak a second language) is a great motivator. Lastly, to my point on being organized—I would not have made it through all the hardship without my ability to constantly pivot because of the diligence I had concerning school requirements and classes before the accident.

My success will be measured by how at peace I feel with my work environment and the work product I am creating, which turns on moral and ethical grounds for me. Anything is possible when I do what I love while making a difference in the world for the better, namely helping to tamp down carbon emissions.