1. What is Environmental Law?
Environmental law is the regulation of the effect of human activities upon the natural environment. Environmental law is mostly governed by federal and state statutes and regulations. Administrative law plays a major part as federal and state agencies continuously promulgate rules and lawyers in this area appear regularly at administrative hearings to comment on the rule-making.
2. Where is Environmental Law practiced?
Government Environmental lawyers in the government typically work with federal and state agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Environmental Protection Agency. Their responsibilities include providing counsel concerning regulatory programs to the agency and legislators, drafting of legislation and regulations and the representation of the agency before administrative and judicial hearings.
Private Practice Environmental lawyers in private practice generally work in departments in large and medium firms that are devoted to environmental law. Such lawyers expect a greater variety of work due to the particular needs of the client. Consequently, lawyers encounter not only familiar environmental law related issues such as administrative law, zoning and real estate; but also issues as diverse as securities, taxation and labor.
Corporate (In-House) Some corporations have in-house departments or lawyers devoted to providing counsel regarding environmental law. Some typical responsibilities include analyzing the effect of administrative rules on corporate activities, commenting on proposed rule-making, ensuring compliance with government regulations, applying for permits and licenses, and representing the corporation at administrative and judicial hearings.
Public Interest In this area of practice, environmental lawyers typically work with nonprofit organizations in instituting litigation on environmental issues. Lawyers are also expected to represent the organization at administrative hearings and lobby before legislators. Some notable public interest organizations include the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense.
3. What Courses and Academic Experiences would be helpful?
- Administrative Law
- Climate Change Law
- Environmental Protection Law
- International Environmental Law
- Land Use
- Water Law
- Business Organizations
- Statutory Analysis
- Commercial Transactions
- Advanced Legal Writing: Analysis
- Mediation: Theory and Practice
- Federal Income Tax
- Federal Taxation of Business Entities
- Debtors and Creditors Rights
- Labor Law
4. What timeline should I be following?
There is no set timeline for taking the courses listed in the prior section and there is no particular sequence in which the courses should be taken. Environmental Protection Law, Administrative Law and Land Use are particularly pertinent to the practice of environmental law and it is highly recommended students enroll in these three courses. Demonstrated Interest Most employers look for candidates with a demonstrated interest in environmental law. The following section lists a number of professional organizations and associations that students may consider joining to learn further information regarding the practice of environmental law. These organizations and associations present an excellent opportunity for students to network with practitioners.
It is recommended that students pursue a summer internship with a firm, corporation or government agency as most environmental law employers prefer candidates with actual experience. Students should research potential employers and meet with LCS to develop a job search strategy. LCS can provide students with contact information for alumni practicing in the various areas of Environmental Law. Students should take the time to conduct informational interviews with these practitioners to determine which opportunities would be the best fit for them. As a general matter, students are advised to target large law firms, large corporations and federal government agencies during the fall as these entities are more likely to have a set recruiting schedule and know their hiring needs. onsequently, students are advised to target smaller firms, state and local government agencies, smaller corporations and public interest organizations during the spring.
Another way to attract the attention of employers is for students to write a paper on an Environmental Law issue. Students may want to consider submitting a paper for publication to the Santa Clara Law Review or any of the journals dedicated to environmental law. For example, the Environmental Law Institute co-sponsors an annual student writing competition with the award as an offer of publication in the Institutes Environmental Law Reporter.
5. What Professional Organizations and Associations can I join to meet people and find out more?
- Environmental Law Institute
- National Association of Environmental Law Societies
- Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California
- Section of Environment, Energy and Resources of the American Bar Association
6. What additional resources should I check out for further information?
Many professional organizations are available on Linkedin:
- Environmental Attorneys
- Environmental Law Professionals Network
- American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
- Society for Women Environmental Professionals
7. Which faculty members at SCU have worked in Environmental Law?