Overview of Environmental Offerings and Opportunities at Northwestern
Northwestern Law offers a dynamic, interdisciplinary approach to environmental law that takes full advantage of the law school's relationship with the scientific and environmental communities of Chicago. At the Law School itself, Northwestern offers a broad range of core and upper-level courses, ranging from the fundamentals of environmental and natural resources law to advanced topics in sustainability, energy, international environmental law, and climate change. More technical course offerings and research opportunities are available to law students as part of Northwestern University's Initiative on Sustainability and Energy (ISEN), the Northwestern Institute for Sustainable Practices (NisP), and the Sustainability Program at the Kellogg School of Management. Northwestern also offers practical externship and clinical offerings at several major environmental organizations, including one of the leading environmental advocacy organizations in the country—the Environmental Law and Policy Center—and the nationally renowned Chicago Legal Clinic. The Law School also maintains close ties with law firms, corporations, local and national non-profits, and federal agencies, all of whom provide regular employment opportunities for Northwestern graduates. The Law School has three full-time faculty devoted to environmental law and policy and a broad range of affiliated faculty.
The Environmental Concentration: Course and Other Requirements
Students may take courses and conduct research as part of a formal environmental concentration. The goal of the environmental concentration is to provide students with a foundation for future leadership in environmental law and policy. The concentration provides a vehicle for concentrated coursework, research, and interaction with faculty, but it is not required in order to take any course. Students electing an environmental concentration will complete the following five courses that are currently offered at the Law School: Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, International Environmental Law, Climate Change, Energy and Sustainability Seminar, and Administrative Law. Students also complete an additional three courses from a list that includes Environmental Law Clinic, Environmental Law Externship at Chicago Legal Clinic, Sustainable Solutions Practicum, The Science of Sustainability, Environmental Management, Law of Real Estate Development, Land Use Law, Energy Law, Environmental Law in Business Transactions, and Environmental Law and Economics. Students in the concentration also complete a three-draft, extensive research paper on an environmental law or policy topic approved by the concentration advisor. The paper may be completed in conjunction with one of the courses listed above or through supervised research for credit.
Clinical and Externship Opportunities in Environmental Law
The Environmental Clinic, directed by professor Nancy Loeb, provides an ideal vehicle for students to gain practical experience through working on some of the most high-profile environmental issues today. Clinic students participate in ongoing legal and policy projects at one of the leading environmental advocacy organizations in the country: Chicago's Environmental Law and Policy Center. Projects have included work on energy efficiency legislation, high-speed rail, plug-in electric hybrid cars, and a range of litigation involving federal environmental legislation such as the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Students may enroll in the clinic for one semester or two, during either their second or third year.
Students may also work on more community-based environmental projects through the Chicago Environmental Clinic of the Chicago Legal Clinic, one of the premier environmental justice clinics in the nation. This clinic serves under-represented populations throughout the Chicago area, providing legal education and advocacy in response to community concerns regarding health and safety. Cases have included litigation to enforce drinking water and clean air standards, to remediate soil contamination in public housing, and to uphold civil rights. In addition, the clinic has been active in developing local standards for wind farms and in revising the Illinois Environmental Protection Act.
Finally, students have arranged externship opportunities at numerous governmental agencies and environmental organizations. Chicago is home to the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 as well as to offices of the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental non-profits.
Opportunities for Supervised Research
Northwestern Law provides extensive opportunities for students to conduct in-depth, original research in environmental law. Working closely with faculty, students may undertake senior research projects that culminate in a paper that numerous students have gone on to publish in law journals.
In addition, through the Sustainability Solutions Practicum, students are able to do supervised group research on a project of interest to an outside "client" such as a non-profit group or government entity. Students have undertaken ground-breaking research projects such as implementing green re-designs for public housing in Chicago, establishing safety practices for the use of nanomaterials, and improving energy and water efficiency at Northwestern University. These group projects typically team one or more law students with graduate students in engineering or business or another relevant field.
David Dana, Professor of Law, Director of the Northwestern Institute for Sustainable Practices, and Co-Director of the Environmental Concentration
David Dana entered teaching after practicing as a litigator at a major Washington, D.C., law firm and at the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he litigated Clean Water Act enforcement cases and also served as EPA's appellate counsel in defending a range of administrative rulemakings against challenges from both industry and environmental groups. He has written on a wide range of topics in environmental law and policy, as well as in land use and the law of property. Professor Dana's current projects include an analysis of how to use legal and regulatory tools to maximize the benefits while minimizing the environmental, health and safety risks of emerging and fast-evolving technologies, such as nanotechnology, including the use of private NGO-private industry partnerships, liability relief as a quid-pro-quo for private testing, and mandatory insurance or bonds. He is also working in the area of climate change, focusing on how best to adapt current legal and regulatory tools and paradigms (such as cost-benefit analysis and private and public nuisance liability) to the exceptional characteristics of the climate change problem. Professor Dana graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and clerked for Judge Betty Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Michael Barsa, Senior Lecturer and Co-Director of the Environmental Concentration
Michael Barsa litigated numerous high-profile environmental and natural resources cases before joining the Northwestern faculty. He developed novel legal strategies in cases involving large-scale groundwater contamination from MTBE in gasoline, DDT off the California coast, subsurface trespass of oilfield water, international environmental harms arising from the first Gulf War, and recycling. His scholarly work has explored international environmental claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, risk perception under environmental warning statutes, and the Public Trust Doctrine. Professor Barsa graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif from Stanford Law School and clerked for Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Nancy Loeb, Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Northwestern Environmental Law Clinic
Nancy Loeb engaged in a broad array of legal work prior to joining the Northwestern faculty, including law firm, corporate and public interest practices. Professor Loeb was a general counsel and managed the litigation of major companies in the United Sates and globally. She also practiced extensively in the areas of antitrust and competition law. Professor Loeb has been a long-term board member of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, with which Northwestern partners in the Environmental Law Clinic. She is the founding director of the Northwestern Environmental Law Clinic. Professor Loeb graduated from New York University School of Law, where she was a member of the editorial board of the Law Review, and clerked for Judge Dolores K. Sloviter of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is a member of the board of directors of the National Women's Law Center and the Chicago Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Chicago Bar.
Howard A. Learner is President and Executive Director of Chicago's Environmental law and Policy Center. He has served as an environmental advisor to the Obama campaign and transition, and has been involved in a rage of high-profile environmental law cases and policy disputes. Mr. Learner is responsible for the overall strategic policy direction, development and leadership of ELPC. Before founding ELPC, he was the General Counsel of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a public interest law center, specializing in complex civil litigation and policy development. Mr. Learner is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Law School and regularly co-teaches an advanced environmental law seminar with Professor Dana. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Kimberly Gray is Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering, and Co-Director of the Northwestern Institute on Sustainable Practices. Her work bridges the divides of fundamental chemistry, environmental science and ecology and policy-relevant engagement with cutting-edge controversies in environmental law and policy. Professor Gray and Dana have co-taught and collaborate on a range of projects. Professor Gray is currently serving as a Sigma XI Distinguished National Lecturer, and in that capacity has lectured throughout the country on issues related to sustainability.
Keith Harley is Director of the Environmental Program of the Chicago Legal Clinic, a major provider of legal services to low-income individuals and communities in Chicago. He is also Chair of the Chicago Bar Associations's Environmental Law Section, and has taught as an adjunct professor at Northwestern for more than a decade.
Lawrence Falbe is a partner in the national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP, where his practice focuses on environmental transactional support (both real estate and corporate), environmental defense and litigation, Brownfields issues and environmental compliance matters. He also has substantial litigation experience involving environmental issues, including CERCLA (Superfund), hazardous waste, toxic torts, the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, underground storage tanks, and nuclear fuel processing. He has represented clients involved in enforcement actions by federal, state, and local authorities (including the Illinois Pollution Control Board), and negotiated numerous compliance programs, consent decrees and settlements. While in law school, he completed internships with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region V, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Enforcement Division. He received his BA degree, cum laude, from Augustana College and his JD degree from DePaul University, where he was editor of the DePaul Environmental Law Digest and on staff of the DePaul Law Review.
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