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Environmental Law Clinic

Overview

The Environmental Law Clinic provides an opportunity each quarter for students to represent national, regional, and grassroots non-profit organizations on a variety of environmental issues.  The clinic’s primary goal is to help students develop essential lawyering skills through hands-on experience in real cases.

Under the supervision of clinic director Deborah Sivas, JD ’87, and clinical attorneys Alicia Thesing, JD ’00, and Matthew Sanders, JD ‘02, clinic students work on a mix of litigation and policy matters at the interface of law, science, and policy. The clinic’s clients range from national groups like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Ocean Conservancy to regional and local groups like Center for Biological Diversity, Monterey Coastkeeper, the Grand Canyon Trust and the Pit River Tribe. The clinic’s work tends to be based in California, but often concerns issues in other regions or across the nation. Our cases take our students before administrative agencies and to all levels of state and federal court, with frequent practice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

As part of their casework in the clinic, students help screen new matters and potential clients; formulate strategies; research and develop factual and legal issues; and prosecute administrative and litigation proceedings. Students may meet with clients, opposing counsel or agency officials; review administrative records and develop expert testimony; draft comment letters, petitions, pleadings and briefs; and present argument at administrative and judicial hearings. In regular one-on-one meetings with supervising faculty, there is a heavy emphasis on learning how to write persuasively, present oral arguments, and exercise professional judgment.  

In the past year, clinic students have successfully litigated cases to protect Joshua Tree National Park, protect endangered salmon in Marin County, and help shepherd private lands near the largest coastal lagoon in the lower 48 into permanent state conservation.  You can read more about our cases or see some of our students' recent work

The clinic runs year-round, with full-time students in the fall and winter quarters; advanced students in the fall, winter, and spring quarters; and one or two full-time students over the summer.  Only Stanford Law School students may take the clinic during the academic year, but we encourage students at other law schools to apply for summer positions.