Environmental Law and Policy Lab

3.00 crs.

This is a unique course in which students, individually or in teams, work under the supervision of skilled attorneys with years of city, state, federal and international environmental advocacy experience on a semester-long project with real non-profit, or community clients. Topics may include: oil and gas drilling, endangered species protection, climate change, urban agriculture, fisheries management, and more. The course walks students through the full process of representing a client on policy and/or legislative matters. Each class focuses on a specific skill—drafting and signing client retainers, crafting legislation, lobbying, writing Freedom of Information Act requests, using press releases and radio/TV interviews—as an advocacy tool, and more. Activities may include: drafting agency regulations or state or federal legislation; organizing community action; and participating in stakeholder working groups, agency or legislative hearings, or other meetings and events. The course includes weekly discussions on procedure and related environmental law and advocacy issues, supplemented by guest speaker presentations. These complement the hands-on, “real work” activities and provide diverse experiences for students that will prepare them to engage in this field post graduation. Students completing the course earn three experiential learning credits. Space is very limited - usually up to six students. Enrollment requires Professor approval.


Environmental Law and Policy: Florida Keys (May Term Only):

This intensive two-week course provides an overview of the environmental laws, policies, and decision-making processes specifically related to coastal and marine resources in the United States, using the Florida Keys ecosystem as a micro study. It teaches strategic thinking and advocacy, integrating doctrine, theory, skills, and legal ethics, in performing professional skills. The Keys are a very unique chain of bridged islands, home to: a national marine sanctuary, a national park, critical habitat for endangered and threatened species, the last known undisturbed tropical hardwood forest, and the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S., the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world. The Keys also abut the Florida Everglades National Park. In addition to these natural features, the Keys have vibrant charter and commercial fishing industries and a history of sponge diving, wrecking and sunken treasure recovery. All this is under the oversight and management of a patchwork of local, state, federal and international governing bodies, along with corporate and tribal interests. Through review of statutes, cases, administrative materials, and academic articles, we will explore issues including: coastal and ocean land use, fisheries management, endangered species, marine sanctuaries and salvage. We will examine law and policy regimes as they relate to beaches, coastal wetlands, wildlife, and nearshore and offshore ocean environments, in the fragile Keys archipelago. We will discuss various federal laws and U.S. environmental policy. This course is primarily experiential in nature; there will be a daily experiential learning component. Students will learn and practice skills relative to environmental policy: obtaining key documents, grassroots and grasstops organizing, using media as an advocacy tool and persuasive writing. The course offers opportunities to see laws and policies in practice in this unique environment. Afternoon classes (depending on availability) may include:


• Visit a commercial fish house, sea turtle hospital and wrecking/salvage museums

• Snorkel/boat in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary;

• Tour the Dry Tortugas National Park;

• Meet local reporters and activists

• Tropical forest and/or evening endangered species (Key Deer) habitat walk;


Grades will be based on active class participation, ethics and professionalism, an in-class presentation and a final paper. Students may pre-arrange for the final paper to meet writing requirements by following proper standards.