What are you most looking forward to in the next two years?
I am looking forward to working with my faculty colleagues, the staff and the students to help this law school become all that it promises to be -- a law school that takes a back seat to none in teaching and preparing students to practice law at the highest levels of the profession. I am also looking forward to working with my colleagues, our students, and our supporters and collaborators on and off campus to help shape and develop the clinical and experiential law programs, and to establish the environmental law clinic -- the law school's first clinic.
What is an environmental law clinic?
The short answer is that it is a small law firm, located within the law school, staffed by law students working under the close supervision of faculty and experienced lawyers, that focuses its work on environmental matters. The slightly longer answer is that an environmental law clinic, like other law school clinics, provides an important part of legal training in which students are given the opportunity to work on real matters of consequence, for real clients, while they are taught and supervised by faculty with years of experience in the field. A clinic is one of the places within the law school where we bridge the gap between doctrine, the traditional classroom, and practice -- where student learning takes place in context and theory meets action. By providing hands-on learning, an environmental law clinic helps to build the knowledge, skills, creativity, practical experience, ethical awareness, and judgment necessary for the the competent practice of law -- all within a pedagogical framework designed to teach and yield extraordinary results for the clients and the students.
Perhaps the best analogy, or at least the most familiar analogy, is the medical school residency. We take it as a given that medical students have worked with patients and practiced under real-world conditions, under close supervision, before they become doctors. Similarly, law school clinics help to provide the real world experience that is essential to good practice. And, like the teaching hospital, law clinics provide an invaluable service to the community. Law clinics often provide top quality representation to those who cannot afford or otherwise access legal representation. In the case of an environmental law clinic, we marry the teaching with the goals of developing a deeper understanding of environment and natural resources law and protecting and conserving the environment.
What types of matters do you anticipate the Environmental Law Clinic will work on?
To train the next generation of top-flight environmental attorneys and leaders, and in order to help our clients and others find creative solutions to some of the most complex and important issues of our day, we will need to provide our students with the opportunity to work on a diverse range of matters in varied settings. As a result, I expect that we will be advocating for our clients in the courts, before agencies and in the legislative and public arenas, and we will be advising and counseling clients involved in litigation, legislation and transactions. I also expect that the clinic will be providing our expertise to projects, teaming with others in the field, and working on an interdisciplinary basis with scientists and others on campus to address vexing problems. In short, we will doing many of the same things that environmental lawyers do for their clients at the highest levels of the profession.
Beyond that, I look forward to meeting with colleagues and interested stakeholders including NGOs, state and local governments, leaders from Native American Tribes, industry and others, and to establishing an Advisory Board to learn more about the particular needs and challenges in Southern California and our region.
You sound very excited to be a part of the new law school.
Absolutely. This is a fantastic opportunity and challenge. I am very impressed with the level of support from inside the law school, on campus, and the community. I couldn't ask for a more supportive environment.