I would certainly recommend the clinic to any student interested in environmental law, and at any stage of law school. ...I learned quite a bit of substantive law during the term and felt that my clinic experience was that of a real contributor to the overall process of shaping the National Wildlife Federation's direction, strategy, and approach to the cases I worked on.
– Emerson Hilton, '12
Environmental Law Clinic
The Environmental Law Clinic offers students the opportunity to learn to be effective advocates while protecting natural resources and the environment. The clinic's principal client is the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), which houses its Great Lakes Regional Center in Ann Arbor. NWF pursues its mission to conserve wildlife in administrative, judicial, and legislative forums, both at the federal and state level, and through a wide range of educational programs and publications.
Clinic cases focus on maintaining and enhancing the water resources of the Great Lakes, the largest surface freshwater system on Earth. The Great Lakes comprise 21 percent of the world's supply of surface freshwater and 84 percent of North America's surface freshwater.
The course has both a clinical and a classroom component. Clinical work will teach students the mechanics of litigation, primarily in appellate venues, as well as pertinent environmental laws and administrative law. Students will also practice investigative, research, and writing skills. Class work will introduce students to principles and techniques relevant to the clinical work, and may include such subjects as drafting pleadings, motions, and briefs; oral argument; and negotiation.
Recently, student attorneys helped draft the opening brief for the U.S. Court of Appeals in an active case challenging a nationwide permit regulating aquatic invasive species. Other student attorneys analyzed a pending application for the diversion of water outside the Great Lakes basin for compliance with the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Interstate Compact. In the past, student attorneys have helped draft briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court concerning the test for navigability; for a U.S. district court concerning the validity of a regulation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and for the Supreme Court of Ohio concerning the scope of judicial review of agency action.
Working collaboratively with NWF's Senior Counsel Neil Kagan, students taking the clinic have the opportunity to influence state and national policy and to see that current laws to maintain and enhance the environment are enforced.