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Environmental Law Clinic

Overview

The Environmental Law Clinic provides an opportunity each quarter for 10 to 15 students to work in the environmental advocacy arena on behalf of a wide variety of nonprofit organizations, from national groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ocean Conservancy to such regional and local grassroots groups as the Center for Biological Diversity, San Francisco Baykeeper, and Voice of the Wetlands.

Under clinic director Debbie Sivas '87, students engage in natural resource litigation, administrative practice, and policy work involving federal public lands, marine and coastal resources, biodiversity, water quality, and global climate change.

Recent clinic participants have successfully litigated cases involving the protection of Joshua Tree National Park, the regulation of invasive species discharges from ships, the preservation of the Medicine Lake Indian sacred site, and the conservation of the endangered Mojave desert tortoise. Others have successfully advocated for policy reforms before state commissions to protect California's coastal estuaries from the impacts of power plant cooling water systems. And still others have worked on National Forest fire management policy, post-Katrina wetlands destruction, the protection of sea turtles from harmful fishing practices, the conservation of endangered vernal pool species and habitat, the preservation of public trust tidelands, and climate change litigation.

"Given the diversity of our work, each academic year brings new opportunities for direct, hands-on student experience. One of this year's highlights was a Ninth Circuit hearing in which a current clinic student argued one side of the case and a former clinic student argued the other. They both did a terrific job. From a clinical education perspective, it really doesn’t get any better."
Debbie Sivas '87, Director, Environmental Law Clinic