Learn About An Environmental Law Career

Jeff Gracer, a principal at Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C., says environmental law was the perfect fit for him.
“I was an avid hiker and backpacker very early in my life,” Gracer tells U.S. News & World Report.
Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at U.S. News, recently discussed several points that experts say students should consider if they want to pursue an environmental law career.
An Undergraduate Science Degree Isn’t Required For Environmental Law
A science background may be helpful, but it isn’t required for those who want to pursue environmental law. According to “A Trail Guide to Careers in Environmental Law” by Harvard Law, “many would-be environmental attorneys are intimidated by the field because of the perception that it requires scientific expertise. While environmental lawyers often work alongside scientists to achieve their goals, this collaboration allows scientists to concentrate on the science and lawyers to concentrate on the law.”

Environmental Attorneys Aren’t Always Business Adversaries

A big misconception regarding environmental law is that environmental attorneys tend to represent public interest organizations. But, Gracer says, environmental attorneys can also represent regulated companies.
“You’re basically helping your clients understand how to achieve compliance with environmental standards while also making a profit, and that can be challenging,” he tells US News. “So it’s intellectually quite interesting.”
A Variety Of Legal Assignments
Environmental attorneys get the benefit of working on a variety of assignments. Sahana Rao is an associate at the Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C. Rao tells US News that she works in both litigation work and regulatory practice.
“There’s never been a shortage of things to learn,” says Rao, a 2016 New York University Law School grad. “There’s always a lot of interesting things going on in the field as a whole.”
You Don’t Need To Attend A Formal Environmental Program To Receive High-Quality Courses
A number of schools offer formal environmental law programs for students interested in pursuing environmental law. At University of California – Berkeley School of Law, the environmental law program provides students with “opportunities to take a broad range of courses in the environmental and energy field and to engage in cutting-edge research and writing.”
Still, Gracer says, you can still receive high-quality courses without a formal program.
“There are several law schools that have great environmental law programs,” he tells US News. “But there are also law schools that are just excellent law schools that have great environmental law classes.”
Law School Clinics Can Provide A Solid Foundation
While you can still get high quality courses without a formal environmental program, there are a number of opportunities that a formal program offers.
Rao tells US News that opportunities like clinics can help reassure students whether or not the field is right for them.
“It helped me get a flavor for what I would do in practice as an environmental lawyer, and it helped me to confirm that this is what I wanted to do,” Rao says.
Sources: US News, UC Berkeley School of Law

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