Sophia Pike: Blending Passions for Law and the Environment

'2019 Lex Fellow Sophia Pike recently graduated from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. Eventually, she hopes to pursue environmental law. In the following post, she discusses her work with an environmental nonprofit and her Lex experience.

How did you hear about the Lex Fellowship? 

I actually saw an ad on Instagram. I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my mother. She and I had been planning to go to Europe together after I graduate, but this was too good to pass up. I said: “Listen, Mom, please. This is legal work and in Rome for a month. It sounds incredible.” She was nervous about my going at first, but then she became really excited for me. I also discussed the opportunity with the president of the non-profit I work with; she is a paralegal for an environmental lawyer, and she agreed it sounded super interesting. 

Tell me about your involvement with the non-profit you mentioned. 

I'm on the board of the North Florida Coastal Caretakers here in St. Augustine. We go out on the St. John's River with a boat called the litter gitter and clean up trash and debris from the beaches. We also educate people about the harm of single use plastic and discuss better alternatives. 

What got you interested in this area of activism?

In my town, I noticed that the beaches were getting dirty. There wasn’t much being done, so I began brainstorming ways that I could get more involved. One night, I was out with friends and I went to fill my Tervis cup with water. A lady stopped me. “You're not going to use one of those plastic cups?” she asked. Turns out, she was actually the president of the nonprofit and we exchanged numbers. From then on, I realized that I could really make a difference in my community. 

So you have a passion for the environment and a passion for law. How are you hoping to combine them? 

In Rome, during my Fellowship, we went to one environmental law firm. It was incredible and they talked about cases that were exactly in line with what interests me. It was similar to the activism I was doing with my nonprofit, but focused more on the legal side. 

Why did you choose Rome?

Rome is incredible, from the history to the gelato. It is so different than America, but also very similar. I loved being immersed in the different culture. Also, since I know a good amount about our legal system, it was interesting comparing what I knew with Italian law. 

Tell me about your experience with your Legal Advisor.

Brooke was incredible. Aside from being an awesome person all around, she had such good advice about going into law school. If we had questions that we didn't feel comfortable asking the lawyers during firm visits, she was always there to help us. 

One specific activity I enjoyed was reviewing actual cases and doing a moot court with them. It was fun and interactive, and Brooke gave really good feedback. Another day, she did a session on prepping for law school and talked about applications and what to expect in our first year.  

How was your Site Manager? 

Sylvia was incredible. I think a big part of why everything went so well in Rome was because Sylvia knew the city like the back of her hand. She helped us get to the firms smoothly, and we always had fun on our group meals, or "family dinners" as we called them. 

Do you feel that you're more prepared for law school when you eventually do go?

I absolutely have an upper hand. Lex was an invaluable experience. It was so hands-on. I think I gained a lot of knowledge that other people going straight from college into law school or without this experience just wouldn’t have.

What would you tell friends who are unsure about doing the Lex Fellowship? 

I would tell them they should absolutely do it. It was an incredible experience being abroad and learning so much. The lawyers have so much information to give and are so willing to help you understand the Italian legal system. I want my friends to have as incredible of a time as I had.