"This year, I've worked on two projects: one on legislation regarding the regulation of mercury-based dental amalgam and the other focused on the Illinois Recycling and Reuse Act, specifically how the disposal of electronic products is regulated. I've spoken with constituents and stakeholders such as dentists and electronics manufacturers; I've researched and answered legal questions, and actually helped draft state legislation. I've learned about collaboration, confrontation, and the value of relationship building. This program has been so important to me from a social justice standpoint - the work gets to the heart of the interconnection between human beings and the natural world and the confluence between law, science, and our greater society. I am now seeing how to link policy research with policy reform, and going forward, I will use these experiences to help better society."
-- Natalie Bump
The Environmental Advocacy Center offers students the chance to delve into a range of real-world, real-time environmental issues. Moreover, the program invites students to investigate an array of advocacy techniques. "Litigation is an important lawyering skill," says director Nancy Loeb, "but it is not the only one. Many students are drawn to this Center for the opportunity to explore a variety of avenues, and to determine which mix works best in different circumstances."
Some students enjoy the legislative process and may work to develop legislation and pursue other venues to policy reform. Others are fascinated by a particular environmental issue (e.g. clean energy) and as they learn about the issue's key constituencies, stakeholders, historic precedence, challenges, and inroads, they can evaluate and implement the best strategies to effect change in that particular arena.
Regardless of student preference and the particular cases on which they work, most agree that their involvement in the Environmental Advocacy Center has prepared them well for a number of different careers. They particularly value learning the intricacies of developing legal strategies to effect change in a variety of complex situations that are difficult to capture in a classroom setting. Students gain hands-on practice, the opportunity to see an issue move through a process, and the ability to be directly involved in driving real change.
Prerequisite classes are not required for participation in the Environmental Advocacy Center, however, it is recommended that students take (or have taken) Environmental Law and/or Natural Resources and Administrative Law.
Northwestern Law 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.
Learn more about coursework and other Environmental Law opportunities.