Environmental Law?

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earthlawyer
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Environmental Law?

Postby earthlawyer » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:42 am

Okay so the only reason I've wanted to go to law school is to practice environmental protection/ wildlife/animal welfare type of law. Yes, bring on the hippie comments. Whatever. I've always thought that I'd work for the EPA or WWF or HSUS or something along those lines. But I'm realizing that those jobs are very hard to come by. And actually, i'm realizing I don't know enough about anything concerning environmental law* and law school and opportunities/jobs out of law school.

So help me, please?

My questions are - what schools should I be considering? What are my options out of law school? What are salaries like? Does every environmental-attorney-wannabe do the legal internships w/ the 501c groups? Or do you do normal 1L summers? Does it matter if I don't go to a tier 1 school? (not that I don't want to or that i'm ruling it out... I'm just having a problem with justifying the 150k debt that comes with it, vs going to my in-state-public-school about 20 mins from my house...).

Thanks for your help and advice! I appreciate it!


* And just so we're clear - I'm not talking about the advocacy/protection side of environmental law. Ideally working for an advocacy group. NOT helping some company that dumped chemicals in the water to claim that there's no causal link between the population's increased cancer rate and the polluted water. I mean, that's cool if that's what you want to do. I'm sure that's interesting. Hell, maybe I'd do it if meant a paycheck & I have kid who is in need of a surgery or something. My morals aren't that solid. I'm not judging. But right now, it's not my cup of tea. I'm sipping on the other side.

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hyunseoki
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby hyunseoki » Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:02 am

Hippie!!!!!! lol jk

nparker
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby nparker » Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:32 am

I want to do the exact same thing and while I am no expert on the matter, it seems pretty clear to me that the better the school, the better your opportunities. That said, salaries are undoubtedly lower and if the prospect of huge amounts of debt scares you away from a top school, there are some other, less "prestigious" schools that have phenomenal environmental law programs. Many of these schools are in the Pacific Northwest (Lewis & Clark, Univ. of Oregon, UW, etc.).

Long story short, if you have great stats, aim high and see which T-20 gives you the most $$ and go there (just outside of T-14, UCLA's environmental program is really solid). If your stats won't get you any $$ from top schools, then you have a difficult decision ahead of you.

I can't imagine the government (EPA) hires too many kids coming from non-top schools and I find it hard to believe the big 501(c)(3)s (Sierra Club, WWF, NRDC, etc.) will take on recent grads as their attorneys. I've always thought you basically pay your dues at BigLaw and switch over to the 501s laterally once you've made enough money to justify the enormous pay cut.

Also see: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandr ... mental-law

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gatorlion
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby gatorlion » Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:30 am

Check out a previous thread on this topic: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=79085

Also, you can find a direct link to my Environmental Law Preference Rankings here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tXWyWMzdoyb7k-UKYdEBzQQ&output=html

earthlawyer
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby earthlawyer » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:37 am

Thanks nparker - sort of dismayed to hear that you have to "pay dues" w/ big law. That's so beyond annoying. But such is life I guess. As far as stats, I could probably get into at least one T20 according to lawschoolpredictor and lsn but I don't know how much stock to put in that, esp since I'm using my avg PT score (lsat in 11 days...).

And I doubt that I'll get money :*( not a URM, nothing exceptional.

And Gatorloin - that is an AWESOME spreadsheet. thanks for sharing. I'm actually quite surprised that L&C is so low on your list. I guess that just verifies what nparker said.

:(

I may actually have to rethink this whole law school thing then. I'll be 30 when i graduate. Do I really want to spend my thirties climbing some crap ladder at some douchebag law firm? And debt is not fun. I can barely handle the debt I'm in from undergrad...

Why is this whole law career path so full of crappiness....

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jaudette
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby jaudette » Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:09 am

Environmental law is one of fields where there are a lot of different routes to take, and a lot of sub-sectors largely based on what region of the country you are in (unless you practice in DC).

From what I've been told by practitioners, there is some concern because a lot of the law of the 70's has finally become settled (most of the "issues" have been litigated and we now have an established rule of law). For those like me who are interested in the practice of environmental law (not necessarily the moral side of it), we're hoping Congress passes a new Climate Change bill. That should give us a few more decades of litigation.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:55 am

earthlawyer wrote:
* And just so we're clear - I'm not talking about the advocacy/protection side of environmental law. Ideally working for an advocacy group. NOT helping some company that dumped chemicals in the water to claim that there's no causal link between the population's increased cancer rate and the polluted water. I mean, that's cool if that's what you want to do. I'm sure that's interesting. Hell, maybe I'd do it if meant a paycheck & I have kid who is in need of a surgery or something. My morals aren't that solid. I'm not judging. But right now, it's not my cup of tea. I'm sipping on the other side.


A good friend of mine entered law school with very similar ideals, and now works for EPA. She thought that by taking this job, she would be working in a position that was consistent with her own views on protecting environmental resources (she's really passionate about environmental justice issues), but, essentially, she's spent the past eight years approving permits for aging coal-fired power plants.

Working for a big law firm may give you far more opportunity to work on cases consistent with your ideals than you think.

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LawandOrder
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby LawandOrder » Tue Sep 15, 2009 7:58 am

I'm going to go drive around pointlessly after work today and burn gas just to piss you off. I'm not kidding. Fuck all of you environmental protection hippies that stifle progress and innovation for the benefit of non-humans.

the lantern
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby the lantern » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:00 am

bad troll is bad even at 8am

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LawandOrder
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby LawandOrder » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:06 am

It would only be trolling if I was making it up to piss her off. That is really how I feel.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:25 am

Its funny... about 85% of the kids entering law school want to either do: International law, biglaw, enviromental law or clerk for the supreme court... These jobs make up about... mmmm... Maybe what? 20% of all legal jobs?

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GATORTIM
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby GATORTIM » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:27 am

LawandOrder wrote:I'm going to go drive around pointlessly after work today and burn gas just to piss you off. I'm not kidding. Fuck all of you environmental protection hippies that stifle progress and innovation for the benefit of non-humans.


Sweet life

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TTH
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby TTH » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:32 am

reasonable_man wrote:Its funny... about 85% of the kids entering law school want to either do: International law, biglaw, enviromental law or clerk for the supreme court... These jobs make up about... mmmm... Maybe what? 20% of all legal jobs?


You forgot entertainment law, which adds a solid .5% to that 20%. See, it all works out.

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GATORTIM
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby GATORTIM » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:38 am

reasonable_man wrote:Its funny... about 85% of the kids entering law school want to either do: International law, biglaw, enviromental law or clerk for the supreme court... These jobs make up about... mmmm... Maybe what? 20% of all legal jobs?


I consider myself to be a renaissance man and will be gunning for placement in each of these, oh yeah entertainment law too. Seriously, doesn't one begin to ask why there are soo many PI attorneys? I'm sure that those 2 inches worth of attorneys in your local phone book didn't aspire to handle simple soft-tissue (whiplash) automobile accident claims when they were sending in their LS apps.

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Shaggier1
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby Shaggier1 » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:08 am

I've always thought you basically pay your dues at BigLaw and switch over to the 501s laterally once you've made enough money to justify the enormous pay cut.


This is only one of several possible routes. Lots of people go right into enviro. law. Find summer work with places like Earthjustice, ELI, WRI, etc... If you build up a nice resume, strong grades, and a sincere interest in the field, you can walk right into environmental lawyering.

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LawandOrder
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby LawandOrder » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:22 am

GATORTIM wrote:
LawandOrder wrote:I'm going to go drive around pointlessly after work today and burn gas just to piss you off. I'm not kidding. Fuck all of you environmental protection hippies that stifle progress and innovation for the benefit of non-humans.


Sweet life


*Evil laugh*

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capitalacq
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby capitalacq » Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:58 am

nparker wrote:I want to do the exact same thing and while I am no expert on the matter, it seems pretty clear to me that the better the school, the better your opportunities. That said, salaries are undoubtedly lower and if the prospect of huge amounts of debt scares you away from a top school, there are some other, less "prestigious" schools that have phenomenal environmental law programs. Many of these schools are in the Pacific Northwest (Lewis & Clark, Univ. of Oregon, UW, etc.).

Long story short, if you have great stats, aim high and see which T-20 gives you the most $$ and go there (just outside of T-14, UCLA's environmental program is really solid). If your stats won't get you any $$ from top schools, then you have a difficult decision ahead of you.

I can't imagine the government (EPA) hires too many kids coming from non-top schools and I find it hard to believe the big 501(c)(3)s (Sierra Club, WWF, NRDC, etc.) will take on recent grads as their attorneys. I've always thought you basically pay your dues at BigLaw and switch over to the 501s laterally once you've made enough money to justify the enormous pay cut.

Also see: http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandr ... mental-law

Nope. That's just what the people who entered law school hoping to do environmental law say to make themselves sleep better at night.

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capitalacq
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby capitalacq » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:00 am

re:Careers-- there's also plenty of capitol hill careers for environmental lawyers. you can work as a lobbyist or for a congressman as a legislative correspondent/aide on environmental issues

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reasonable_man
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:09 am

Shaggier1 wrote:
I've always thought you basically pay your dues at BigLaw and switch over to the 501s laterally once you've made enough money to justify the enormous pay cut.


This is only one of several possible routes. Lots of people go right into enviro. law. Find summer work with places like Earthjustice, ELI, WRI, etc... If you build up a nice resume, strong grades, and a sincere interest in the field, you can walk right into environmental lawyering.



And thats all there is to it!

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Matthies
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby Matthies » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:18 am

Environmental law is much more regional than you would think. The majority of it is done in the states rather than DC. The EPA has regional offices that employ more lawyers than the DC office. You don’t need to go to a top school if you focus on the region your school is in.

I currently do environmental law for a 503(c) nonprofit (endangered species act and clean water act stuff mostly). I also interviewed at the EPA regional office twice, both time they called me in for an interview, I did not apply for anything. Environmental law is all about connections if you meet the right people in law school, through networking and interning, finding a job is easier than most think.

The key is knowing/meeting the right people. As soon as you get to school join the local bar association then join the environmental law sections, natural resources law section, ect. Go to their meetings, introduce yourself and make contacts. By the time you graduate people will be recommending you for jobs rather than you having to apply for them.
Of course, all of this assume you go where you want to work, if you plan to work outside the region than all the plus I gave above are negated.

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jaudette
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby jaudette » Tue Sep 15, 2009 12:48 pm

I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but the EPA typically does not do environmental litigation. EPA lawyers, like the poster above said, do a lot of the permits and design policy. Like almost every other Federal Agency (exception is SEC and maybe a few others), the EPA uses the Justice Department for its litigation, which has a huge environmental sector. If you want to actually practice environmental law, this is a far better option than the EPA.

I would think that states would have adopted similar models, but on that I am not certain.

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gatorlion
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby gatorlion » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:00 pm

LawandOrder wrote:It would only be trolling if I was making it up to piss her off. That is really how I feel.


LOGIC FAIL. Damaging the environment hurts humanity. Even if you adopted the absurdly callous thinking that we should only protect people and nothing that surrounds them, your point would still be moot. How do we get our food? Oh right, that ecosystem thing...

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reasonable_man
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby reasonable_man » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:03 pm

jaudette wrote:I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but the EPA typically does not do environmental litigation. EPA lawyers, like the poster above said, do a lot of the permits and design policy. Like almost every other Federal Agency (exception is SEC and maybe a few others), the EPA uses the Justice Department for its litigation, which has a huge environmental sector. If you want to actually practice environmental law, this is a far better option than the EPA.

I would think that states would have adopted similar models, but on that I am not certain.



Oh good. I thought I would have to try to get a job at the EPA to practice environmental law (really hard), but in reality, all you have to do is get a job with the DOJ (nearly impossible) and you're all set.

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LawandOrder
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby LawandOrder » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:04 pm

gatorlion wrote:
LawandOrder wrote:It would only be trolling if I was making it up to piss her off. That is really how I feel.


LOGIC FAIL. Damaging the environment hurts humanity. Even if you adopted the absurdly callous thinking that we should only protect people and nothing that surrounds them, your point would still be moot. How do we get our food? Oh right, that ecosystem thing...


I hold the view that humans are at the top of the food chain and any all resources can and should be subverted to our needs and desires. You're living in fantasy land if you think that we are presently or will be in the next century anywhere close to destroying "that ecosystem thing" which provides food.

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jaudette
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Re: Environmental Law?

Postby jaudette » Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:10 pm

reasonable_man wrote:
jaudette wrote:I can't believe this hasn't been mentioned yet, but the EPA typically does not do environmental litigation. EPA lawyers, like the poster above said, do a lot of the permits and design policy. Like almost every other Federal Agency (exception is SEC and maybe a few others), the EPA uses the Justice Department for its litigation, which has a huge environmental sector. If you want to actually practice environmental law, this is a far better option than the EPA.

I would think that states would have adopted similar models, but on that I am not certain.



Oh good. I thought I would have to try to get a job at the EPA to practice environmental law (really hard), but in reality, all you have to do is get a job with the DOJ (nearly impossible) and you're all set.


Hey I didn't say it would be easy. I'm just putting the warning out to all those "EPA Crusaders" out there who will be very dissappointed when they are given their "Permit Granted/Rejected" stamp set.




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