Tara Brock, who was a Crag law clerk in 2010, has found many ways to use political advocacy on behalf of the environment.  Alongside voluntary positions at environmental advocacy groups, Tara is now working for ocean conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts.


Tara Brock SmallAfter she left Crag, Tara Brock finished law school, took the bar, and went on to work at a strategic consulting company on environmental campaigns.  Now, however, she works in Pacific Ocean conservation at Pew Charitable Trusts.  Based in Portland, her work centers on environmental policy and advocacy, a job where Tara says her law degree definitely comes in handy.

Tara has also been on the board for “Bike Walk Vote,” which works to support legislation and candidates that favor environmentally friendly commuting, and is now on the steering committee for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, which holds public officials accountable, supports pro-environment candidates, and promotes environmental legislation.

Tara and her husband are expecting a baby, which has encouraged Tara to start thinking about climate change and what we are leaving for future generations.  She says the Atmospheric Trust Litigation in progress at Crag really resonates with her.  In her work with ocean conservation, she sees climate change everywhere, especially in the oceans as they warm and acidify.

In her spare time, Tara loves to surf.  She originally got into surfing through the Surfrider Foundation, where she has been involved for several years.  They deal with lots of coastal issues such as water quality, beach access, marine reserves and plastics.  One of the biggest projects Tara has done with the Surfrider Foundation was the “Ban the Bag” campaign, which led to plastic bags being banned in Portland and other cities – and hopefully soon, the entire state of Oregon.

Of course, Tara says she wasn’t always an environmentalist.  She was an art major at University of Michigan, and did her final thesis with reclaimed materials like bottle caps.  She collected thousands of bottle caps at the local material recovery facility and learned about ocean plastics in the marine environment, which led to her pursuing an environmental minor.  She was later heavily influenced by The Riverkeepers by John Cronin and Robert F. Kennedy.

She eventually interned with Environment Michigan, after she decided she wanted to understand the law and make a difference.  She then learned about Crag in her first year at Lewis and Clark, and she volunteered and helped plan for that year’s Wild Shots event.  Tara applied to be a law clerk the next summer.

Tara was an intern in 2010, when she assisted Chris Winter with the Arctic Oil project, seeking to use the Historic Preservation Act and other methods to protect subsistence whaling territory for the Inupiat.  This case was one of Crag’s environmental justice projects, which Tara says are important because a lot of the time the people most affected by pollution and environmental crime are communities of color and lower income.

At Crag, Tara learned that she could do what she loved; she also developed practical skills and came to understand what it means to be a lawyer.  She says that Crag was an important part of her path to where she is now; she learned a lot about ocean issues, how to speak persuasively in front of people, and how to hold an argument.  “Crag really taught me how to think on my toes and be well-prepared – that’s one of the things that makes a professional and successful lawyer.”


McKenna Ganz is a pre-law junior at Duke University.  She interned with the Crag Law Center in the summer of 2015 as part of the DukeEngage Portland program. She is majoring in Global Culture, Media, and Political Conflict with minors in Economics and Global Health.