Environmental Law Clinic

The Environmental Law Clinic provides students with the opportunity to work on important and challenging matters involving the protection and enhancement of the environment and human health. 

Clinic students
ELC Students hosted a thrift swap clothing drive on campus as part of UCI Sustainability Resource Center's  Sustainival, an annual fair that celebrates UCI’s campus culture of sustainability. Read >

Clinic students take an early and active role representing clients in litigation and policy matters. Students advocate on behalf of clients in courts and before administrative tribunals, while also providing advice and counsel to clients regarding legislative, policy, and strategic matters.

The Clinic’s docket is diverse, spanning a wide range of environmental and natural resources law, covering local, regional and national issues. As a result, the Clinic provides a rigorous and intellectually challenging educational experience with broad application for students beyond environmental law.

Students develop their problem-solving and advocacy skills and may screen new matters; meet with and interview clients, community leaders, witnesses and agency personnel; investigate and develop facts; hone writing and oral advocacy skills; advise and counsel clients; negotiate, mediate or litigate matters; and collaborate with lawyers, policymakers and others. The Clinic also strives to empower its clients and inform the larger community about environmental issues and strategies.

In addition, the Clinic works closely with UCI Law’s Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources (CLEANR), the UCI School of Social Ecology and the UCI Program in Public Health.

In its first six years, clinic students have worked on a diverse range of matters, including:

  • Initiating actions to protect water quality and enforce the Clean Water Act
  • Assisting coastal communities to plan for climate change adaptation
  • Advising a coastal community in its fight against on-shore oil drilling
  • Protecting important desert lands against development and exploitation
  • Encouraging and requiring compliance with the California Environmental Policy Act and the National Environmental Policy Act

The Environmental Law Clinic was fantastic. I got to write a reply brief and then argue a motion for a writ of mandate in court, so I was in court for several weeks in a row watching this bench trial happen, and then I got to argue in court. It was the first time that I got to be a real lawyer—not for moot court, not for class, but for real—and I felt 100% prepared to do it, which was a really awesome feeling.
Bennett Kaspar-Williams ’14, Corporate Counsel, Labor Relations, Amazon Studios

Recent Work

As the Environmental Law Clinic (ELC) enters its 13th year, it continues to work alongside and represent local, regional, and national non-profit organizations advocating to enhance and protect the environment and community health in California and beyond.

Recent ELC work has included litigation and counseling on matters involving wildlife habitat and corridors, fisheries policy (in partnership with the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre), the protection of sacred cultural lands and resources, and community health and welfare. Long-time ELC clients also saw the successful culmination of a few other multi-year policy and litigation matters in which the ELC was proud to have played a part. Of course, other similar multi-year matters continue.   

Looking forward, the ELC expects to continue last year’s collaboration with UCI’s Civil Rights Litigation Clinic on climate and other important cross-over matters—stay tuned! 

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