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photo of Barrett EdwardsBarrett Edwards

IPA alum takes a legal approach to helping local governments while applying on lessons learned at UD

Working at IPA, Barrett Edwards (MPA ’06) discovered his vocational path.  Even before he had received his Master of Public Administration degree from the School of Urban Affairs & Public Policy, he knew that his next step would involve law school.

Today Edwards is realizing his ambition of helping local governments with legal issues, through his work at Hudson, Jones, Jaywork & Fisher in Dover, Del.

Networking is an important dividend of the research assistantship that IPA provides.  In Edwards’ case, it involved an internship placement within the state’s Office of State Planning Coordination (OSPC).

“One of the main reasons I was hired by Hudson, Jones, Jaywork & Fisher was because of my experiences at UD,” Edwards insists. “While working [as a student intern] for OSPC, I helped draft the Comprehensive Plan for Little Creek, Del., which provided me with a foundation for understanding the planning process in Delaware. I also did research regarding eminent domain, which has served as a springboard to understanding issues surrounding ‘takings’ claims.

“I also made valuable contacts as a student, including hearing Terry Jaywork—my current boss—speak at a Delaware League of Local Governments meeting. I was able to reference this particular meeting when I contacted Mr. Jaywork about a job,” Edwards says. “I think it helped him see that I was serious about wanting to be a municipal attorney.”

To Edwards every job working for local governments in Delaware is a new challenge.

Unlike working for a large city wherein one might specialize in a specific area, Edwards says, “As an attorney for small towns, I have the opportunity to handle a broad spectrum of issues—from human resources to zoning to finance to First Amendment rights. It is difficult to get bored when you are constantly dealing with something new and challenging.” This is also what excites and motivates him.

Edwards elaborates, “With a cadre of municipalities of varying sizes as clients, one of the most difficult things is trying to understand the unique needs of each municipality. It can also be challenging, especially as a new attorney, to keep straight which municipality has enacted which ordinance, which charter has a specific provision, etc.”

As a fledgling attorney, Edwards finds that his experience-based preparation at IPA provided him with what he now knows is a critical “tool.”  Not only did he discover his vocation, he gained a more important and universally applicable life attribute.

“The most important thing I learned at IPA, Edwards says, “was probably how to tackle difficult projects and head into unknown areas with confidence.

“As a research assistant, I remember being given difficult tasks in areas I knew nothing about and being nervous as to whether I would be able to successfully complete the tasks. After working through difficult projects time and time again, I eventually learned to approach tasks in unknown areas with confidence that I would be successful. I now rely on this attitude daily.”

Edwards hopes to one day become a partner with Hudson, Jones, Jaywork & Fisher and become an expert in municipal law.

Edwards and his wife reside in Dover, where, when not practicing law, he is busy keeping up with their two active little boys.  Whether at work or at home, Edwards never senses a dull moment.

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