Claire Woods '11
This past summer, when the BP oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast, Claire Woods ’11 had just started an internship with the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). Suddenly, her research on the subject of categorical exclusion—a regulatory concept that helped BP circumvent rigorous environmental analysis due to the fact that its drilling was deemed not to pose a significant threat—was at the center for the NRDC’s recommendations on how to restructure the government’s permitting apparatus.
Woods is quick to credit Columbia Law School for providing her with the resources to build an expertise in environmental law. She spent a semester as a student in the Environmental Law Clinic, which gave her the opportunity to meet with community groups to address issues such as land conservation and transportation. She also researched and analyzed legal issues related to the regulation of greenhouse gasses and studied the implications of hydrofracking, a controversial means of extracting natural gas from rock formations.
While working closely with Professor Michael Gerrard as a research and writing assistant, Woods attended international climate change meetings in Cancún. The California native also spent her third year at the Law School serving as an executive editor of the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. In the classroom, she benefited from an array of world-renowned instructors, but she says the true value of the Columbia faculty has been their “unrelenting desire to help students achieve their personal and professional goals outside of the classroom.”
Woods, a member of the Attorney General’s Honors Program, will soon begin work at the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. She initially began working in the division as part of the Law School’s inaugural Externship on the Federal Government in Washington, D.C.