Gaining Experience at the National Labor Relations Board
Cincinnati Law student Jackie Miller’s commute may have been to downtown Cincinnati this summer, but she was working on a national scale as part of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB is an independent federal agency which holds the power to protect employees’ rights to organize and have unions as a bargaining representative, and works to prevent unfair labor practices.
This opportunity allowed Miller to get her feet wet and use her “skills and desires for order and logic to affect positive change”, a major reason she decided to go to law school. Although she has a year before graduation, this summer will help her discover if she wants to continue pursuing work in labor law and government.
“I was looking forward to seeing what working for the government was like, to see what other people thought of it, and I’m always interested in real life experiences,” she said about this job. “You hear a lot of stories about workers, their employers, and their unions, and then you get to see how a government agency handles those cases according to its own statute and case law.”
Miller did more than simply watching from the sidelines. She investigated her own cases regarding unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). At work day-to-day, she learned about the NLRA, took affidavits, wrote letters to attorneys and representatives, and researched issues that come up in the office that noone was quite sure how to handle.
The NLRB is housed in the John Weld Peck Federal Building, giving her opportunities to learn about other agencies as well, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although the knowledge she gained about the NLRA may be considered niche, it is absolutely useful for labor attorneys.
She noted the parallels to the classroom as well. “Real life experience is usually pretty great for putting schoolwork into perspective as well. You understand better why your professor emphasized what he or she did, and you become aware of new issues.”
For Miller, the most rewarding part of law school has been the challenges both in and out of the classroom, forcing her out of her comfort zone. “It’s not easy for everyone to be assertive, somewhat outspoken, manage time and work, maintain confidence, be resilient, and become smarter,” she said, pointing to growth she has seen in herself both personally and professionally.
Author: Michelle Flanagan, ‘18, Communication Intern