Environmental and Land Use Law

Early in the planning of the Law School, UC Irvine identified environmental law as a core focus, building on the University's and Law School's longstanding commitment to the interdisciplinary study of environmental problems. Through its strong environmental faculty, new Environmental Law Clinic, and active Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources, UCI Law has rapidly become a prominent regional and national center for exploring and tackling important environmental and land use issues.


UCI Law offers a full range of courses dedicated to preparing students for the practice of environmental and land use law through the exploration of foundational issues of statutory and regulatory analysis, ethics, politics, and economics.  Many of these courses also integrate skills components that explore issues in statutory interpretation, legal ethics, federalism, and standing through hypothetical problems as practiced from the perspective of environmental groups, government agencies, and regulated entity clients.

  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Law Clinic
  • International Environmental Law
  • Public Lands/Natural Resources Law
  • Administrative Law
  • Land Use and Development Law
  • Property
  • Community and Economic Development Clinic
  • Regulatory Design and Innovation


Hands-On Learning and Public Service

At UCI Law, students can get real-world environmental and natural resources law experience through clinics and provide public service in environmental law through pro bono work. The Environmental Law Clinic provides students the opportunity to work on cases and matters involving environmental, natural resources and/or energy law issues. Clinic students take an active role in matter development and case work, assuming substantial responsibility at an early stage.  The Clinic represents clients involved in litigation (courts and administrative tribunals) and counsels clients in other fora. The Clinic’s case load is diverse, spanning a wide range of environmental and natural resources law, with the potential to cover local, regional and national issues ranging from air, water, and coastal pollution, to issues dealing with wildlife and marine protection, toxics, climate change and energy. The Clinic provides a rigorous and intellectually challenging educational experience for students interested in environmental and natural resources law, conservation, administrative law, and/or complex civil litigation. 

Environmental and land use law pro bono projects at UCI Law have included work with the Surfrider Foundation, the Orange County Coastkeeper, Communities for a Better Environment, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, and the Community and Economic Development unit of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


UCI Law is also home to the Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR), which strives to make UC Irvine School of Law a nationally recognized site for scholarship, education, community outreach, and public engagement on environmental, natural resources, and land use law.  The Center creates programs and other educational opportunities through which to disseminate information and facilitate dialogue about environmental issues. The Center seeks to involve and engage UCI Law students in these research, educational, and public engagement activities. Past and upcoming CLEANR events include:

  • Conferences focused on environmental law issues and problems of particular interest to practitioners and policymakers, with topics including: global fishing and food security, Arctic governance, desalination, food systems sustainability, housing and land use regulation
  • Workshop roundtables bringing stakeholders together on a particular problem to disseminate information, facilitate dialogue, and help shape policy on a range of environmental issues, including: land use regulation, environmental governance in the Arctic, California water policy, management of Marine Protected Areas, and Tribal lands and energy development.
  • Speaker series on topics including disaster law, GMOs, Irvine’s indigenous communities, litigation and radioactive contamination, and animal wellbeing and social change.
  • Environmental Literature and Film Series on foundational literature and film on a range of environmental, land use, and natural resources topics.
  • Summer Sustainability Series for future sustainability leaders that presents a range of seminars each July for members of the next generation of leaders of global sustainability from over 70 countries around the world.

CLEANR also actively collaborates with other environmental centers at UCI, including the university-wide Sustainability Initiative, the School of Biological Sciences Center for Environmental Biology, UCI’s Newkirk Center for Science and Society, and UCI Oceans.

Additional Opportunities

Environmental law opportunities at UCI Law go beyond coursework, clinics and public service. UCI Law sends a team of students to compete in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, the State Bar of California’s Student Negotiations Competition, or the National Animal Law Competition. In addition, UCI Law students have established an Environmental Law Society and Student Animal Legal Defense Fund to provide fora for education, advocacy, networking, and scholarship on environmental law and animal law issues.