Law students at UCLA are now able to receive a specialization in environmental law, a recognition upon graduation that they have completed a rigorous course of study in a broad range of subjects related to environmental law and policy.
“This new specialization formalizes what has already been a robust and extensive training program for future lawyers seeking to work on environmental issues,” said Sean Hecht, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and UCLA Law’s Evan Frankel Professor of Policy and Practice. “Students here have always had access to our stellar faculty, courses and guidance, and the specialization offers formal acknowledgement of their commitment to training in environmental law.”
To earn the certificate, students must complete five courses in environmental law and produce a supervised research paper. Externships and clinical courses count toward the certificate. Students who fulfill the requirements receive notations on their diplomas and transcripts reflecting that they completed the specialization.
UCLA Law’s environmental programs have grown dramatically in the last decade. In 2008, UCLA Law launched the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, now the country’s leading law center on environmental issues including climate change policy, federal regulation, state policy, urban sustainability, chemical safety, land use, climate engineering and more.
Students pursuing environmental law at UCLA also benefit from clinical programs, scholarships and opportunities for student leadership. The Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic provides students opportunities to work on behalf of environmental and community groups on litigation and regulatory matters. The Emmett Institute sponsors several students each summer for public interest externships with nonprofits and government agencies. The student-run Environmental Law Society was recognized as the UCLA Law Student Organization of the Year in 2017-18. That academic year students participated in the California State Bar’s Environmental Law Conference in Yosemite and international climate talks in Bonn, Germany.
“UCLA Law has long been a magnet for ambitious students who are serious about careers in environmental law. The environmental law specialization will provide students more opportunities for education, research and career guidance,” said Cara Horowitz, who serves as the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. “With this specialization, graduates will be even better positioned to join the many UCLA Law alumni who have gone on to leadership roles at state and federal agencies, nonprofits and private firms.”
The environmental law specialization joins six other specializations at UCLA Law. All students admitted to the environmental law specialization must complete five courses with content in environmental, natural resources land use and energy law, and must complete a supervised research paper. The specialization program includes a formal mentoring process, in which students meet with a faculty advisor to discuss their areas of interest and create an individualized path that meets the student’s academic and career objectives. Students are encouraged to declare their intention to pursue the specialization during the spring of their first year, but with permission from the co-executive directors, a student may join the specialization later.