Name: Elizabeth Putfark
Hometown: Pawleys Island, SC
Alma Mater: University of South Carolina (BA and MA)
Legal interests: Environmental Law/Climate Law
What did you do before law school?
I had three main jobs in the years before law school, for the most part simultaneously. I worked as a freelance journalist for equestrian publications. I got to interview everyone from Olympic medalists fresh off the podium to preteens raising money for retired racehorses. It turns out there are a lot of ways to tell a horse story! In the evenings, I taught Composition and Rhetoric at community colleges, generally with some environmental twist. Finally, I took care of my two daughters—Charlotte (6) and Greta (3). I have loved being a mom more than I ever imagined. Nothing portrayal does it justice.
Why did you decide to go to law school?
My husband, Dustin, was in the military when we got married, and that narrowed my career choices, especially after kids. So, as Dusty got closer to the end of his contract, we decided he would follow me for a while. I remember Dusty asking, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” And I said, “I would stop climate change.” Obviously, that was a very stupid answer—help mitigate, maybe? But it gave me a direction. After that I just had to find the overlap between the problem of anthropogenic climate change, my strengths, and work that gives me joy. In that space, I saw a career in environmental law.
What do you do in your free time?
Did I mention kids? Along with the daily machinations of family life, I love reading with my girls, playing chess with my oldest, and having our ritual “Sundae Sunday” ice cream dance parties. I try to pick up my guitar a few times a week—not because I sound good, but because it makes me feel good. I also love exploring the Rockfish Valley where we live. And not much beats hanging out in the backyard with the dogs and chickens.
What’s something you’re looking forward to this semester?
I am really stoked for Alternate Spring Break through PILA. I’ll be volunteering with Advocates for the West, which does some exciting work across the western US. I actually sat in on some of their video seminars when I was considering law school. I’m grateful for the opportunity to gain some experience working with them.