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Environmental Law Clinic

Students represent local, regional, and national environmental and community organizations to help solve critical environmental challenges facing the New York metropolitan region.

 

In the Environmental Law Clinic, students take on cases and projects that impact the New York City region—where urban communities face diverse and immediate challenges such as alarmingly high asthma rates, scarce open space, brownfield redevelopment, overcrowding, and sprawl.

The clinic focuses on a range of issues (clean air and water, wetlands preservation, environmental justice, and more) and emphasizes litigation tools and tactics that have broad applications beyond environmental law, such as drafting pleadings, arguing motions, and negotiating settlements. Clinic cases are chosen for their environmental significance, educational value, and ability to meet a client’s need for counsel.  

Under the supervision of clinic founder, Professor Edward Lloyd, students participate in weekly seminars, team meetings, simulations, and other exercises. They explore mechanisms, including citizen suits, which are prevalent in both civil rights and environmental advocacy. 

Recent projects include:

  • Counseling firefighters and others who were exposed to asbestos and other toxins in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
  • Advocating for both environmental and citizen groups before state and federal agencies to ensure that owners of nuclear power plants maintain adequate resources to operate, maintain, and shut down the plants safely.
  • Teaching students to counsel community groups grappling with difficult cases and help them reach settlements that best achieve their goals.
  • Addressing the interplay of economic development and environmental protection and the impact of contamination regulation on communities of color and economically disadvantaged groups.
  • Publishing a memorandum, Clarifying IRS’s View on Climate Change as a Charitable Purpose in Order to Mobilize Program-Related Investments for Climate Change Solutions.
  • Collaborating with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law on an amicus brief on behalf of local governments in support of state and environmental petitioners in California v. EPA, the lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s revised determination on the appropriateness of the greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles.

Career Outcomes

Clinic alumni have gone on to continue their work in posts at the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Defense Council, other non-governmental agencies, private law firms, and in all levels of government.

 

"I want my students to take away a number of skills from this clinic: listening carefully to their clients and analyzing strategies—including litigation, policy change, possible regulatory reform—to resolve them. And even if students choose not to practice environmental law, I hope they take with them a sense of the breadth and depth of the environmental challenges facing this country and the world."

Edward Lloyd, Evan M. Frankel Clinical Professor in Environmental Law