July 8, 2019 — Mason Malone, a University of Houston Law Center rising 2L student, is working in Mexico City this summer as he interns for la Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos, or the National Hydrocarbons Commission, in its regulations department.
“CNH regulates petroleum and natural gas, and it regulates the exploration and extraction stages up until the point the oil or gas reaches the refinery,” Malone said. “Most of my work focuses on researching the regulations of other countries, including the U.S., to help the agency when it drafts regulations.”
When searching for a summer internship, Malone had two goals in mind: finding meaningful legal experience and improving his Spanish.
“I chose CNH specifically because I believed it would advance both goals best, and that has turned out to be true,” he said. “I use my legal research skills and resources virtually every day, and I write and communicate predominantly in Spanish.”
Malone also wanted to expose himself to components of the legal world he had not encountered during his first year of law school.
“I felt that my first summer internship was a good opportunity to see what other aspects of a legal practice would look like, particularly compliance, regulatory work and transactional law,” he said.
Malone arrived at the Law Center via the University of Houston Honors College 3+3 Program, wherein Honors College students attend the Law Center as first-year students in place of their fourth year of undergraduate education.
“I think that the amount and difficulty of work you have to do in the Honors College can prepare you for the difficult workload that’s ahead,” Malone said. “Even though the law school workload is way more, to have that level of preparation versus if I wasn’t in the Honors College — I would be worse off.”
Malone is part of the first cohort of 3+3 Program students, and he is grateful to Professor Alison Leland, director of the program, for her encouragement and her contribution to his understanding of the legal world.
“Without her, the path I had taken would be more difficult,” he said. “Law school in a way is like a black box, and you don’t really know what’s inside it until you get there.
“You need to meet people who are lawyers, and building those connections takes connections, so to have someone like Professor Leland who can be that bridge for students is really awesome.”
The Pre-Law Pipeline Program also benefited Malone, as it gave him a glimpse into the life of a Law Center student.
“There’s nothing that can really prepare you for law school, but if there was something that was going to get close, it’s the Pipeline Program,” he said. “Everyone is coming from a background that has not historically been in the legal profession. Everyone is starting at ground zero, and no one feels like they’re not meant to be there. It really covers all the bases, and that’s why it was a great program.”
Malone credited the support network created during his time as an undergraduate for his success as a 1L, citing Leland of the Honors College and Pipeline Program Director Kristen Guiseppi of the UH Law Center for their help and guidance. He also cherishes his law school peers.
“My section has been very supportive and it’s made law school a lot easier knowing that we’ve had a section that’s very friendly and nice to each other,” he said.
In his next year at the Law Center, Malone will serve on the Houston Law Review and enhance his public speaking via moot court.
“In my 2L year, I'm looking forward to growing more professionally as I seek out job opportunities and growing as a communicator,” Malone said.