Summer Job Spotlight: Ben Cooper, 2L, Land O’Lakes

Ben Cooper, 2L, is spending the summer working for the legal department of Land O’Lakes, one of the nation’s premier agribusinesses. Headquartered in Arden Hills, Minnesota, the 99-year-old agricultural cooperative employs around 10,000 people and is one of 16 Fortune 500 companies in the state.

How did you connect with this summer opportunity?
Professor Alexandra Klass, my Torts professor, recommended Land O’Lakes as a way to experience agricultural and environmental law from a business perspective. I connected with a current Land O’Lakes law clerk through Minnesota Law’s LinkedIn page, and after we talked more about the experience over coffee, I applied through Symplicity.

Please describe a “typical” day on the job.
Most of the clerks’ work is drafting and reviewing contracts for Land O’Lakes’s different businesses. I typically have one or two research projects as well, which vary from regulatory to real estate to jurisdiction-specific contract interpretation. There are also opportunities to attend meetings between the attorneys and the business.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your summer experience?
Since I am working from home, I have set up informal virtual “coffees” with different attorneys to learn more about their background and interests. It has been different not to develop relationships in person, but I have made an effort to connect with the rest of the team.

How so far has your summer experience compared with your expectations?
The legal team covers a range of topics, so assignments are varied and well-rounded. By working in-house with a Fortune 500 company, I have been able to get a better understanding of the business perspective on legal issues and learned how to explain legal concerns to clients.

How does your experience connect with what you currently envision doing with your law degree?
I want to work at the intersection of environmental and agricultural law. Being able to feed the population in a way that promotes efficiency and conservation is critical to the future of the Earth and society. Land O’Lakes, as a farmer-owned cooperative, is positioned to meet this challenge.

What advice would you offer another law student thinking about working in a similar position next summer?
Connect with your professors. If you get to know them and they get to know you, they can be valuable references for applications, and they can point you towards positions that might not be on your radar.

These are stressful times. What are you doing for wellness to de-stress?
Cooking is my go-to creative outlet. There is a farmers’ market a short walk from our house and we love to walk down every Saturday. In addition to picking up our usual haul, we try to grab something we haven’t cooked with often.

How are you spending your free time this summer?
My fiancée and I hike or camp in Minnesota’s state parks almost every weekend during the summer. I am blown away by the variety of landscapes across the state.

Anything else you’d like to share about your experience or about this summer?
When my interview switched to a video interview with one day’s notice due to the rapidly developing COVID-19 pandemic, Anne Sexton ’12 in the Career Center jumped right in to help me adjust—even arranging a last minute set-up at the Law School so I had a quiet place to interview.