Environmental Law Clinic
The Environmental Law Clinic and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office have formed a partnership that allows the S.J. Quinney College of Law to offer an unusual and innovative clinical opportunity—a hybrid prosecution environmental law Clinic. Students who participate in the Environmental Law Clinic work in conjunction with a lead attorney from the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office on regulatory and enforcement environmental law issues brought on behalf of the Salt Lake County Department of Health. Students learn about regulatory and enforcement aspects of environmental law at the county level, and in some circumstances to develop their litigation skills through the use of the third-year practice rule in appropriate enforcement actions.
Working side-by-side with attorneys in the D.A.’s office on selected enforcement actions, students engage in live-client legal representation on behalf of the Department of Health. Depending on case availability, each student participates in at least one enforcement case during the year. Following a case from its inception through conclusion, students develop litigation skills and encounter the professional and ethical dilemmas that arise during direct representation. Students also participate in the regulatory process by assisting the Department of Health on at least one rulemaking project.
The clinic has three organizing principles: (1) development of core competencies; (2) reflective practices in order to begin developing a framework or reference for processing information and experiences about law, society, and environmental problems; (3) environmental law. Through hands-on experiences, students build competency in skills that can be easily translated to other areas of law. They encounter and struggle with the ethical and practical dilemmas that are inherent in the practice of law. Additionally, students are exposed to a variety of practice philosophies and styles as they work together with practicing attorneys within the Salt Lake County D.A.’s office and with regulators and administrators within the Salt Lake County Department of Health. Finally, students have an opportunity for reflection and shared learning through the classroom component of the clinic. These features help train the next generation of environmental lawyers and serve the College of Law’s mission to graduate practice-ready lawyers.
The clinic is offered as a year-long course to allow sufficient time for the students to build skills, have a broader variety of experiences, achieve more goals, and to grow and shift in their practice style. Due to the complexity and responsibility associated with each project, participating students are strongly encouraged to commit to participate for both fall and spring semesters.
Associated with the Environmental Clinic, a limited number of individual placements are also available at the Department of Interior Solicitor’s Office, the Environmental Dispute Resolution Program, or with other appropriate outside supervisors with special approval.
Pre- or co-requisites: Environmental Law, Administrative Law, or Natural Resources Law; and Environmental Practice.
Course: Environmental Practice (3 cr., graded, Year-long). This course focuses on the practical, procedural and strategic aspects of practicing environmental and natural resources law through readings and simulated exercises. The course uses exercises designed around environmental statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Community Right-to-Know Act, and CERCLA, to build and develop necessary practice skills. Exercises might include client counseling, witness interviewing, drafting administrative and citizen suit complaints, settlement negotiations and rulemaking practice. Note: This course is not a substitute for the substantive survey courses in environmental law or natural resources law. Registration is not limited to Environmental Clinic students, but preference is given to clinic students if space is limited.
Placements: (2 or 3 cr., P/F, Fall and Spring) Students work with practicing attorneys on live-client cases or projects addressing regional issues involving water, energy, and public land policy. Additionally, supervision by College of Law faculty helps students develop superior writing skills. Regular meetings involve feedback, reflection, and strategic thinking.Depending on availability, students who apply may be placed with the Solicitors’ Office of the Department of the Interior. Other placements may be arranged on an individual basis.
Faculty: Professor Jamie Pleune
Registration & Placement: This clinic is limited. Students may enroll in the course online. To enroll in the clinic, students must complete the Clinical Program Application Form and submit it with a short statement of interest/prior experience.
LAW 7260-001: Environmental Practice Fall- Spring: (3 credits total) Thursday 7:40 – 9:05 am
LAW 7261-001: Environmental Clinic (In-House) Fall & Spring: (2–3 credits each) Thursday 9:10 – 10:10 am
Additional work in certain placements WILL APPLY to the Pro Bono Initiative certificate.
Placement and Course qualify for credit toward the Environmental Law Certificate.