dcg2120 wrote:Woah. I had to double-check that I was still on TLS when I found this thread.
Anyways, since this looks like a safe space to come out: I am also interested in working in international environmental policy/law. Ideally I'd like to work with an environmental NGO that has a global reach--the NRDC or similar. I would also be interested in working with the State Department but it is my understanding that the legal positions there are very selective. I have very little work experience (1 year out from UG), but it is focused on global sustainable development issues and environmental politics (internship related to SusDev, various paid and unpaid research projects, possibly a publication by the end of the year).
I am lucky enough to be choosing between Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and Berkeley. My question for observationalist and anyone else who has an idea is: how much should I weight the prestige of the school against the prestige of its international and environmental programs? Harvard obviously wins the prestige contest (and the LRAP contest, but as I read it my preferred work would be eligible for LRAP at all of these schools). I'm told NYU is the best pick for international law, though they seem to be focused on human rights. Columbia has the Center for Climate Change Law but otherwise seems pretty corporate-focused. Berkeley is supposed to be good for international and environmental stuff but I know very little about it.
I've stalked some of the people whose jobs I want, and it seems like most of them are from NYU, Berkeley and other schools well known for their environmental programs (UC Boulder, UVT). Do you think this is self-selection (i.e. Harvard grads could get these jobs but prefer others) or does school specialization give a definite advantage in these fields?
I'll have to let worldtraveler or something else tackle the question on those schools, I was at Vanderbilt (which was awesome) and it's not in the same league. Those are all great programs and you may find once you're in law school that your interests shift as you become more knowledgeable of what legal practice looks like within each field. Truly international enviro law is almost non-existent; e-law mostly consists of regs and those are determined by each sovereign state. You might find a comparative law gig helping a think tank or an NGO research the laws of one country and providing input on the development of laws in another, but those jobs are incredibly competitive and probably rely a lot on luck. International policy as a field can be more broad because you have institutions trying to work together across borders on things like climate change mitigation and water conservation, so you end up with options with large NGOs based in NY/DC/CA, IGOs like the UNDP, UNFCCC, OAS, etc and probably some stuff in the private sector.
If you're looking to actually work abroad, I suggested in an earlier post to try and target the countries you're interested in and then seeing which of the programs you mentioned have the most recognition within their legal community. Otherwise I would think any of those programs will offer you something good, keeping in mind that you will be competing against people with similar or better credentials than you from all of the schools for a very small number of jobs. Without relevant work experience prior to law school you are effectively starting out of the gate behind a good number of those people. Something to think about I guess.