The first-year curriculum and its extensive upper-year courses, clinics, colloquia, and seminars in environmental and land use law provide students with a strong foundation in theory and practice. Two specialized clinics, the Environmental Law Clinic and the International Environmental Law Clinic, give students a chance to apply their education to solving important environmental and land use problems in New York City, the nation, and the world.
The 1L Year
In the core classes, students are introduced to different theoretical perspectives on environmental and land use regulation and get a foundational education about how environmental law works. They learn the law governing the regulation of clean air, clean water, and endangered species. Professor Richard Stewart leads a section of the first-year Legislation and Regulatory State course that uses environmental regulation as a lens through which to explore the interplay between the legislative process and the administrative implementation of regulatory statutes. Students also cover environmental and land use issues in their Property and Torts courses during their first year. Professors Vicki Been '83 (on leave) and Katrina Wyman teach Property and regularly use land use and environmental problems as a springboard to discuss basic property law concepts.
The 2L and 3L Years
Students usually begin their second year by taking one or more of several introductory survey courses, such as Environmental Law, Land Use Regulation, or Natural Resources Law.
Environmental Law provides students with the theoretical grounding they need to understand the major debates about environmental law and then takes students through the principal federal environmental statutes.
Land Use Regulation
Land Use Regulation discusses the circumstances under which regulation might be needed to temper the private-market ordering of land use patterns, and focuses on the financing of development, exclusionary zoning, the fair distribution of undesirable land uses, and "smart growth," development that concentrates urban growth in a more compact, sustainable pattern.
Natural Resources Law
Natural Resources Law identifies the dilemmas involved in managing publicly owned lands such as national forests, examines issues involved in regulating our use of fresh water and the oceans, and explores how the United States has chosen to address these issues.
International Environmental Issues
International environmental issues are addressed in courses and a specialized hands-on clinic. Students examine different countries’ approaches to regulating the environment. They also focus on issues currently shaping international environmental law, including global warming, declining fish stocks, the loss of biological diversity, the regulation of genetically modified organisms, and the potential clashes between environmental objectives and the rules and institutions of the World Trade Organization.
Clinics give students a chance to learn about environmental law firsthand. In the Environmental Law Clinic, students work out of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national, nonprofit legal and scientific organization, assisting attorneys in bringing public interest environmental litigation. The students also join in a weekly seminar at which current environmental policy issues, environmental litigation, and legal advocacy strategies are discussed. In the International Environmental Law Clinic, students research and draft laws and regulations, legal and policy positions, and analysis on international and comparative environmental law issues. Clients include public interest environmental groups in the US and abroad, UN and other international organizations, and developing country governments.
Opportunities for Professional Work and Career Development
In addition to the clinics, the Law School funds summer public interest internships for all first- and second-year students. Thanks to those Public Interest Summer Funding Grants and to the Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law Summer Internships in Public Interest Environmental and Land Use Law, students have worked for such organizations as Sierra Club, Environmental Defense, the Mexican Center for Environmental Law, the Institute for Environmental Law and Economics in Paraguay, Earthjustice, and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice. Two student fellowships have also been endowed at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy for environmental research.
From the Public Interest Law Center to a strong environmental law alumni network, the Law School and its faculty and alumni provide information, counseling, and assistance for those developing future professional careers in environmental and land use law. The Law School's Loan Repayment Assistance Program repays all or a portion of the educational loans of most students who choose public interest or public service careers. The Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law offers postgraduate research fellowships to help promising young scholars embark on academic and public service careers.
The faculty are experts on a wide range of environmental law topics. For example, Professor and Dean Emeritus Richard Revesz, faculty director of the Institute for Policy Integrity, focuses his research on federalism and environmental regulation and the use of cost-benefit analysis in administrative regulation. University Professor Richard Stewart is currently leading the Global Administrative Law Project. Professor Katrina Wyman's recent work has been on policy and legal responses to the possibility that climate change may prompt human migration. Professors Revesz and Wyman are all involved with the Frank J. Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law, which is directed by Professor Stewart.