Law 719 - Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic
Julia E. Stein
Project Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
J.D. Georgetown University Law Center, 2009
The course is designed to train students in lawyering by exposing them to actual environmental law cases. Under faculty supervision, students represent environmental and environmental justice organizations on a variety of matters, usually in collaboration with other experienced counsel. The clinic typically works on matters involving environmental protection(including climate change), environmental justice, land use, and natural resources issues, and has worked on other issues as well (for example, defense of the first amendment rights of environmental activists). In any given semester, clinic students will typically work on cases involving some, but not all, of these issues. The course teaches transferable skills that will be applicable across a broad range of practice areas, including practice areas outside the subject matter of clinic cases. While some clinic projects are litigation-oriented, many projects involve administrative law or policy advocacy. Through classroom study, students learn the substantive law and advocacy skills necessary to work effectively on the cases, and grapple as well with issues of judgment and ethics in the practice of law.
Depending upon the needs of the clinic’s cases, case work may include any of the following: preparation of memos analyzing law or facts, motion drafting, administrative comment drafting, oral argument, trial preparation, negotiations, client interviewing and counseling, working with experts, administrative representation and advocacy, fact investigation, discovery preparation, and preparation of policy-oriented papers. Class sessions will include training and exercises to improve practical lawyering skills.
The course will be graded, and enrollment is limited to 12 students. Although prior environmental law courses, the course in administrative law, and the course in evidence may be helpful, they are not prerequisites or corequisites.
At the end of this course, students should:
-be able to understand the conceptual underpinnings of administrative legal advocacy
-develop legal analysis, research, and writing skills in service of client goals
-be familiar with the conflicts of values and interests that inform environmental and environmental justice advocacy and policy
-be competent in basic communication skills and techniques used in working with advocacy organizations
-be familiar with the concepts involved in using judgment in lawyering for clients
-be familiar with ethical and practical issues (including decisions about strategy and tactics) specific to cause lawyering and environmental lawyering