Environmental Law Options (EPA, firms, etc)

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Environmental Law Options (EPA, firms, etc)

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:41 am

So, after first semester of 1L I'm sitting just shy of the top 25% at my T2. If it weren't for one class I'd be sitting comfortably in the top 15%. Yeah, not great... but not dropout worthy. I know where I went wrong, and am confident I can boost myself up this semester. So far, I have 1L summer applications out to the EPA and to a few boutique firms in my city (medium sized market).

Now, I came to law school primarily with an interest in practicing environmental law because, well I enjoy it. I took a few UG classes in environmental studies and an environmental law class and find it all extremely interesting. On top of that, it seems to be a growing field. I'm a little concerned I don't have enough "concrete experience" to actually prove I'm committed to working the field, so that kind of worries me. The most I have is some minor volunteer stuff, which was totally non-legal.

I realize I'm going to be limited by my school, but does anyone have any information or experience about the selectivity of 1) the EPA (my school is located near a regional office, but I'd be fine anywhere) and 2) boutique firms? Do I have a shot at the EPA coming from a T2 in a market that most T14 students don't look in (for all intents and purposes, think of the market split by 2 similarly ranked schools)? Is there something I can do to make myself stand out, beside journals?

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Re: Environmental Law Options (EPA, firms, etc)

Postby Zar » Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:24 pm

EPA and environmental boutique firms are both extremely selective. It certainly doesn't hurt to try to apply to these types of employers, but I would not get your hopes up, especially for 1L summer.

As an alternative to these types of employers, I would take a look at state environmental agencies. A listing of these types of agencies can be found here. I interned at one of these agencies during my 1L summer, and it was a great experience for getting some actual experience in environmental law. I now have an SA position lined up with one of the top environmental law firms in the country, and I think my experience at the state agency was very helpful.

Also, since you don't mention it, be sure to look into environmental public interest groups for your 1L summer as well. Even if you don't ultimately want to work from the PI side, the experience is still a plus on your resume. PSLawNet is a good resource for listings of these types of jobs.

Definitely try to get some kind of environmental law experience this summer, if for no other reason than to do a sort of reality check for yourself. Some of my fellow interns found their interest in the subject matter to be waning by the end of the summer due to the density and complexity of the environmental statutes and regulations we dealt with on a day to day basis. Environmental statutes and regulations are often compared to the tax code, and some people really hate digging through that sort of minutia. It's good to find out if you're one of those people.

Other things you can/should do to make yourself more attractive to environmental law employers include: 1) taking all classes offered at your school related to environmental law, 2) if your school has one, enrolling in an environmental law clinic.

What you should do also depends on what kind of employer you're ultimately looking to work for. Environmental PI organizations are looking for folks who have a demonstrated commitment to protecting the environment, and they probably care less about grades than do firms. If you want to work at one of these types of places, you need to have environmental activities on your resume. Government employers also like to see a demonstrated interest in government work/public service. Firms care more about the usual criteria: grades and journal/law review membership. So to an extent, how you make yourself more employable depends on your goal.

Also, the extent of my concrete experience in environmental issues prior to law school was a few months spent volunteering for a grassroots environmental organization. I hadn't even taken classes in environmental studies before. What I've found is that environmental employers REALLY like the fact that I have that volunteer experience. Since you say you also have some type of volunteer experience, I think you'll be fine when it comes to that.

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