©2002 Environmental Education Outreach Program & Northern Arizona University
Chapter 2, Section 8:
Lawyers are trained and then licensed to advise and represent clients in courtrooms and in negotiations with government agencies, corporations and other legal entities. Environmental lawyers are especially educated to operate in the environmental regulatory system, and they often have training in environmental sciences. In order to enter law school, applicants must first have a Bachelor’s degree. The Juris Doctor legal degree usually requires six semesters of study at an accredited law school. Their special focus on the environment often leads environmental attorneys to become defenders or advocates for clean air and water, frequently opposing alleged polluters who have damaged the land or threatened the public health. Law schools recommend that those enrolling in environmental law programs have sufficient science in their academic background to comprehend the vocabulary of the chemistry and life processes they seek to defend. The Environmental Protection Agency site that discusses environmental law recommends that future environmental lawyers earn a Bachelor of science degree before going to law school. In addition to this science background, environmental lawyers must have well-developed analytical, research and communication skills.
A description of the programs and courses in environmental law at the College of Law at Arizona State University in Tempe, can be viewed at: www.law.asu.edu/default.htm The University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law does not offer majors or specialties in the traditional sense, but students may concentrate their studies in the environmental field www.law.arizona.edu/.
The Environmental Law Center at the University of Vermont describes a variety of programs, including its LL.M. law degree. Not all legal studies programs grant law degrees, and graduates of these programs cannot become lawyers without further schooling. At the University of Vermont, graduates of the First Nations Environmental Law Fellowship are awarded a Masters of Studies in Environmental Law degree that closely examines environmental laws but does not produce attorneys. Vermont’s First Nations Environmental Law program is designed for North American Indians seeking careers as interpreters between scientists and lawyers, as regulators, citizen activists or policy makers. They may work with corporations on environmental compliance by writing permits, assisting companies in determining if they are in compliance with environmental regulations. Graduates of this program may become involved in regulatory/legal writing, policy analysis, land use planning and zoning, legislative writing, lobbying and other activities that do not require a license to practice law.
The Environmental Law Careers Directory, published by Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, lists professional opportunities and is prepared by the staff of the Ecology Law Quarterly.
Last updated: May 27, 2005