This month, recent University of Chicago Law School graduate Tetyana Rabczak (LL.M, ’16) started her new job at the Illinois Commerce Commission. And, she credits the University of Chicago in a big way for helping her land it.

“I was very lucky to work with the right people while at the University of Chicago,” says Rabczak. “Mark Templeton provided a very good environment for learning in his class and with the Environmental Law Clinic. The clinic provided great practical, real-world work experience.”

While at the clinic, Rabczak worked with the Illinois Pollution Control Board, advising members on the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and emissions allowance practices more broadly across the U.S. and EU. Her extensive background working as a lawyer in her home of Ukraine at both large law firms and nonprofits guiding clients on the EU Emissions Trading System, among other environmental topics, provided Rabczak with a strong knowledge base to share with the board.

When Mark Templeton, who leads the clinic, received word from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago’s Sam Ori that Illinois Commerce Commissioner Ann McCabe—a Harris School alum—was looking for a legal and policy advisor, Rabczak seemed like the perfect fit.

McCabe was looking for someone with experience in grid modernization. And, it turns out Rabczak was in the middle of her legal internship for the summer with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Midwest Clean Energy program, focused on their Utility of the Future program. A summer of research and drafting briefs, motions and other submissions on smart grid implementation in Illinois prepared Rabczak well for her new role.

But Rabczak knows there are still challenges ahead for her. While grid modernization will be a large focus of her new position, many other issues will also cross her desk that she will need to quickly learn.

“I think the biggest challenge will be a steep learning curve because the Commissioner is involved day-to-day with many issues and I see my role as keeping her up-to-date on the developments in all the different subjects she’s working on,” Rabczak says. “I’ll also need to manage the open dockets that come to the Commissioner, which will mean getting down into the details of each case and part of this will be very technical.”

Despite the challenges—or, perhaps, partly because of them—Rabczak is excited to be starting her new role.

“I’ve been working inside environmental NGOs and large law firms, I advised non-profits, local governments and businesses, but this will be my first time working in a regulator’s office,” says Rabczak. “It will be a very interesting and new perspective for me seeing how decisions are made.”

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