Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

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Think_lax86
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Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Think_lax86 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:12 pm

So I understand the stigma against environmental lawyers not making much money, but that really doesnt help me with choosing what I want to do. I am very interested in environmental issues and environmental law/policy and I feel like this area of law actually makes a positive difference in the world.

With that being said, I would like to make at least 6 figures at some point in my life and I am worried that this career path wont allow me to do that. Ive been accepted to Pace law school (#3 envi program in the nation) with $14,000 a year scholy, plus with LRAP I think I will be able to at least manage my after school debt. That still doesnt get at the heart of my concern/pessimism. I want to do something that I am passionate about, and as naive as it might sound, do something that is working toward some kind of noble cause. I understand Corporate law and "biglaw" work is where the money is, but is there anyway to make at least 6 figures doing something that doesnt involve shit that like mergers and acquisitians, or something that is at least alined with my moral values?

Once again, I dont want to spend 3 years of my life in the hell that they call law school, to get a degree that will allow me to fight the good fight only to find out that the opportunity cost wasnt worth it and I could have been making more being a manager at Target. I have drreams, goals and a passion to succeed and really make a difference but excuse me for saying this, I dont want to be making crap money compared to other jobs out there pursuing my dreams.

Any advice is welcome.

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TTT-LS
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby TTT-LS » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:29 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Think_lax86
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Think_lax86 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:50 pm

if you dont mind me asking, what kind of jobs are out there for someone like me? I obviously want to make sure that this is the right thing for me, so maybe taking time off to really reavaluate things would be a good idea. But at the same time I want to make a decent living and not be a bum living with my parents for another couple of years while I am making dirt working on some grassroots non-profit internship thing. With the economy the way it is, that really doesnt help to much either.

MJMD
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby MJMD » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:52 pm

Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?


Sure there is: work for a carbon-offset trading outfit.

I'm sure you could make a pile before that whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

minuit
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby minuit » Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:55 pm

if you work for a private environmental law firm, you will be making $$$. however, you'll be representing corporations that are normally trying to get around environmental regulations :lol:
Last edited by minuit on Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Oblomov
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Oblomov » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:01 pm

Absolutely. The majority of vault firms will have environmental practice areas and I'm sure there are lots of corporations that have in-house enviro people making six figures.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:15 pm

MJMD wrote:
Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?


Sure there is: work for a carbon-offset trading outfit.

I'm sure you could make a pile before that whole Ponzi scheme collapses.


Sulfur Dioxide permits have been in trade in this country for close to twenty years, generating a fairly consistent stream of revenue for pretty much any firm with a practice group focused on the energy industry.

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RVP11
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby RVP11 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:20 pm

Oblomov wrote:Absolutely. The majority of vault firms will have environmental practice areas and I'm sure there are lots of corporations that have in-house enviro people making six figures.


This.

I'm never quite sure why people automatically equate environmental law with Tevas, granola, and non-profit work.

Especially in western states, many big firms have good sized environmental practices. Disputes over water rights, mining, etc. are not one-sided and don't get resolved by themselves.

Think_lax86
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Think_lax86 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:27 pm

Please clarify me if I am wrong, but isnt private/corporate environmental law, like minutia said, trying to help companys get around environmental laws? Sure I would love to come home to a sick paycheck but do I have to sacrifice that money to do something that I know is worth fighting for? I want to look back at what I did that day and be proud of what my legal education allowed me to do, is there anyway to get at least 100,000 in the process? I feel like enviro lawyers deserve just as much as other lawyers if not more, but unfortunately capitalism says different. Is there a way to make these two ends meet? Help fight for a good cause, but also make a nice salary?

The only reason I would do this is to have the amazing opportunity to study at Yale and to increase my knowledge of environmental issues, but Pace has a joint degree program with Yales Masters of Environmental Management program. Would this open some doors for me to accomplish my goals?

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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Anonymous Loser » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:37 pm

Think_lax86 wrote:Please clarify me if I am wrong, but isnt private/corporate environmental law, like minutia said, trying to help companys get around environmental laws? Sure I would love to come home to a sick paycheck but do I have to sacrifice that money to do something that I know is worth fighting for?


My friend in private practice has been doing a lot of work with construction companies seeking to take advantage of the tax benefits of constructing environmentally-friendly buildings, as well as working to obtain variances for innovative green building techniques not yet incorporated in the building codes (e.g., rooftop gardens of native vegetation intended to reduce rainwater runoff).

My friend who works for the EPA rubber-stamps permits for coal-fired power plants, using guidelines established under the Bush administration.

If you try to put "good guy" and "bad guy" labels on environmental lawyers (or environmental law issues), you will almost certainly be overgeneralizing.

tasteofred
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby tasteofred » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:45 pm

I'm having the same dilemma. I figure, IF I can manage to get biglaw, I'll take it, and I can contribute to the environment in my personal life (whenever I get time to have one). Maybe retire early and help the little people from my own pocket :P

No, but really.. I haven't learned about any 6 figure salary, "good guy", environmental law jobs. I'd say that if the ONLY thing you're interested in doing is (positive) environmental work, maybe you should reconsider the law because from what I can tell, most of it is public interest (with a typical PI salary). If you have other interests within law that you think would satisfy you, as well, go to law school and see what opportunities open up for you from there. You can always do your part for the environment in other ways.

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truthypants
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby truthypants » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:51 pm

I'm sure there's lawyers at the EPA or Dept. of the Interior making good money.

Geist13
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Geist13 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:53 pm

You could become the next Jan Schlichtmann and specialize in toxic torts. Though I'm not sure it's all that admirable to be like Jan.

Oblomov
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Oblomov » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:30 pm

Think_lax86 wrote: I feel like enviro lawyers deserve just as much as other lawyers if not more, but unfortunately capitalism says different. Is there a way to make these two ends meet? Help fight for a good cause, but also make a nice salary?


I'd like to get paid a million while looking at titties and saving the world. I feel like I deserve it just as much as Bill Clinton and Bono.

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FunkyJD
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby FunkyJD » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:33 pm

How about working with legal issues pertaining to the regulation and development of cleaner energy sources, such as wind, solar, and nuclear energy?

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A'nold
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby A'nold » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:57 pm

People that want to go into "environmental law" always crack me up. It's the secular person's religion.

It's always like "I love the environment, I'll be an environmental law lawyer!"

Seriously, I'm really just teasing, but there are MANY people at my school like that as well as tons of 0L's on here that continuously ask about "environmental law." It's like the obsession with international law.

Oblomov
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Oblomov » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:33 am

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Last edited by Oblomov on Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A'nold
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby A'nold » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:12 am

Oblomov wrote:
A'nold wrote:People that want to go into "environmental law" always crack me up. It's the secular person's religion.

It's always like "I love the environment, I'll be an environmental law lawyer!"

Seriously, I'm really just teasing, but there are MANY people at my school like that as well as tons of 0L's on here that continuously ask about "environmental law." It's like the obsession with international law.


But can you imagine international environmental human rights law? I think I just had a (green) orgasm.


Dude, that's just stright freaky. That was my uber-secret plan and whole reason for going to ls! Don't let others know about this highly lucrative/prestigeous/fun/in demand career!

Think_lax86
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Think_lax86 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:10 am

What the hell are you guys rambling about? "secular persons religion"... what???

Im not in love with the environment nor am I really your typical tree hugging, vegan environmentalist... I do, however, have a different perspective about what society is and how it SHOULD be... capitalism and consumerism is great in the short run, and not to down play free market enterprises and competition, blah blah, blah, but we are going to kill ourselves by destroying the planet living the way we do... I feel that lawyers, politicians and people in government can actually make a difference... Changing from a capitalistic society to one based around sustainable practices over night is obviously naive and just complete ignorance... You cant change something that is so ingrained in peoples mindsets... I do, however, believe that people that know the intricacies of the US legal system and the rules that govern our society can work towards establishing precedents and the foundations to maybe one day work toward this more sustainable lifestyle...

After all of this I am left with the assumption that the odds are stacked very highly against me when taking into consideration my desire to make a "positive" difference and make 80,000-100,000 while doing it...

And Oblomov, if titties and and saving the world are what you want well I dunno if a million is in your future but hey if you have any entrepreneurial drive I say go for it. If the demand is there than people will pay.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Stanford4Me » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:12 am

I'm sure this is an extreme (and rare) case, but my dad was telling me about a woman in DC who makes $450,00/year. Apparently he was reading an article about her.

Oblomov
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Oblomov » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:21 am

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Last edited by Oblomov on Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jcl2
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby jcl2 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:35 am

Think_lax86 wrote:Please clarify me if I am wrong, but isnt private/corporate environmental law, like minutia said, trying to help companys get around environmental laws? Sure I would love to come home to a sick paycheck but do I have to sacrifice that money to do something that I know is worth fighting for?


There are lots of legitimate natural resource/environmental disputes with no clear "good guy" or "bad guy." For example I know of a current dispute that will likely be headed to court, where and Indian nation purchased a very large water right and land for many millions of dollars, with the intention of permanently trusting (leaving in stream) the water right, but the state claims that the water right has not been used in 5 years and is no longer valid so it can not be trusted, but instead has been relinquished. I don't think I would feel too bad working on either side of that issue. Maybe there is also another side to that one in that the Indian nation may have a case against the person who sold them what turned out to be an invalid water right. Anyway, those are some of things many "environmental" lawyers actually deal with.

Also, if you are working for a firm as an environmental lawyer dealing with regulatory issues, much of what you will be doing is helping your clients figure out how to best comply with regulations, not how to get around them.

There are not a lot of jobs out there for the "save the wales" types of environmental lawyers, and those jobs don't pay very well, nor would that work be very interesting IMO. Most environmental law careers are with firms or the government, and in most of them you do have the potential to earn pretty good money.

Think_lax86
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby Think_lax86 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:18 pm

Oblomov, I thought the natural state of man, like all animals, was to survive and pass on your genes?

Anyway my salary inquiry, while bringing me much delight that I brought humor to your day, was actually just meant to find out if its possible to make money doing what I want to do. While I don't agree with some aspects of our society, I still live in it. If I am going to put myself through the arduous process of law school and owe upwards of $120,000 debt, I would like to know that the opportunity cost was worth it. If I am going to owe that much money and give up 3 years of my life, while morals and values are important, I'd rather not be in a situation where I am having a hard time making ends meet... Plus whos gonna pay for my lap dances?

jcl2, that does sound like a pretty interesting case... thanks for your feedback, and your points on helping clients "comply" as opposed to "get around" laws does make the whole concept more appealing

erniesto
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby erniesto » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:30 pm

A'nold wrote:
Oblomov wrote:
A'nold wrote:People that want to go into "environmental law" always crack me up. It's the secular person's religion.

It's always like "I love the environment, I'll be an environmental law lawyer!"

Seriously, I'm really just teasing, but there are MANY people at my school like that as well as tons of 0L's on here that continuously ask about "environmental law." It's like the obsession with international law.


But can you imagine international environmental human rights law? I think I just had a (green) orgasm.


Dude, that's just stright freaky. That was my uber-secret plan and whole reason for going to ls! Don't let others know about this highly lucrative/prestigeous/fun/in demand career!


I plan on getting my L.L.M from Lewis and Clark or maybe Pace and then doing a startup Transnational ;aw solo op to do litigation which all governments have to listen to to save the whales who have aids in Zimbabwe.

For environmentalists, making serious dough in enviro law is a pipedream. The damage you do doing legal work for Big America will completely out do any effort to whitewash it.

Not to mention that most of the serious environmental law programs (excluding T14) will leave you with a struggle to get into the effective nonprofits. This ontop of their small endowments and lousy LRAPs which put you out 150k and making 45k. IBR would be a nice thought if it had any sort of guaranteed permanence, but even then you've given yourself no mobility in the legal profession.

You're better off going T-20 with a nice LRAP or to a lower ranked school with big money and networking your way into nonprofits through volunteer work. It only takes 10 hours a week to put a face with a name.

minuit
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Re: Is there ANY way to make money in Envi Law?

Postby minuit » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:36 pm

jcl2 wrote:
Think_lax86 wrote:Please clarify me if I am wrong, but isnt private/corporate environmental law, like minutia said, trying to help companys get around environmental laws? Sure I would love to come home to a sick paycheck but do I have to sacrifice that money to do something that I know is worth fighting for?


Also, if you are working for a firm as an environmental lawyer dealing with regulatory issues, much of what you will be doing is helping your clients figure out how to best comply with regulations, not how to get around them.


Yeah, I was being a tad flippant and joking in my previous comment, I know it's more complicated than that... when you work for a private firm, my assumption is that you are just working with clients to help them comply with regulations. Granted, you aren't going out of your way to help the environment, but you aren't going out of your way to hurt it, either.

There's good and bad in private and government... the EPA isn't perfect, and there's actually quite a "revolving-door" policy with top officials at the EPA, leaving for high level positions at the companies they were regulating.




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