Environmental Law

The BC Law Land & Environmental Law Program is designed to train professionals and encourage service in areas of increasingly critical importance to the lives and prosperity of people around the nation and the world, promoting policies and doctrines of sustainability of land, air, and water resources that support the myriad interlocking ecosystems that constitute life on the planet.

Students’ contact with the program typically begins with the Environmental Law Society (ELS)’s welcoming barbecue reception in September of the first year, and ends in the third year with the opportunity for a special project, such as teaching the environmental law course in the University’s College of Arts & Sciences, participating in the National Environmental Moot Court competition or other public interest projects, or—by adding two semesters—a dual degree program awarding a Boston College JD and one of several different masters degrees in conjunction with Tufts University’s graduate schools or Vermont Law School. A certificate in Land & Environmental Law is awarded by ELS at graduation to students who have completed required credits and a project in the field.

Our land, energy, and environmental protection legal program helps shape lives of active practice and service for interested Boston College Law students. It serves an array of very significant and professionally engaging career paths, as well as addressing increasingly critical societal needs for managing resource pressures and the interconnected environmental challenges that face us all in the 21st century.
Zygmunt Plater, Professor of Law

Program Highlights

At the start of classes, the Land & Environmental Law Program holds a barbecue at a faculty member’s home, where newly arrived first-year students gather with second- and third-year students, along with most of the land & environmental law faculty members, so all can meet one another and talk about the program’s many features and projects for the coming year. Program alumni from recent and long past years often attend the barbecue, so mentoring relationships have a chance to form at this early stage of students’ careers.

In BC Law's seminar program—unique in contemporary legal education—up to 10 carefully selected senior law students each year from Boston College, Harvard, and Boston University Law Schools have the opportunity to teach, in pairs, their own individualized course in environmental law and policy to university undergraduates, as lecturers in law in Boston College’s Arts and Sciences curriculum. For law school credit, with a weekly group seminar meeting, two-person teams of law students teach the semester-long course they have designed for the Spring term, with each team’s class enrollment comprising up to thirty-five or forty undergraduate students from different departments.

Boston College Law School’s National Environmental Law Moot Court Team focuses on environmental law, administrative law, and constitutional issues, and in recent years has participated in the annual National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition sponsored by Pace University Law School, contesting cases arising in the land use and environmental protection law setting.

The Pace program offers high-level competition with between 75 and 100 teams from around the US and Canada, and employs a particularly challenging format: the role-rotating rounds over a three-day sequence of oral arguments are each contested by three teams, not two — typically between a state or local government agency, a polluting corporation, and a citizens organization, with a argument by one of the parties as legal intervenors or cross-appellants or cross-appellees.

At least once a year, and often more, ELS sponsors a specialized jobs panel discussion. Alumni and other practitioners who have made satisfying careers in the field of land and environmental law describe the broad and increasing variety of jobs available to graduates with concentrated interests and study in these fields. Career paths include work as corporate counsel in companies large and small, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, legislative committees and commissions, local government, and individualized practice, as well as in law firm land and environmental practice. The Career Services office and the ELS listserv also keep track of job opportunities for summer and career placements in these specialized areas.

The Certificate in Land Use & Environmental Law is awarded by the ELS to graduating students who have fulfilled concentration and service requirements in these curricular areas. The Law School does not certify specialties for graduates, but this certificate has proved useful to alumni in past years as formal affirmation of their professional curricular concentrations. A brochure detailing certificate requirements and the required application process is available at the ELS website.

 

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