Environmental law is an up-and-coming area of law in an age of concern over the footprint humans are leaving on our planet. It covers diverse areas such as climate control, sources of energy, pollution, and Corporate Social Responsibility.
As an environmental lawyer, most opportunities are in the corporate area of advising large organizations and businesses as to their risks, responsibilities, regulatory concerns, and damage limitation and defending them if litigation ensues.
Beyond the corporate world, a very limited (but popular) number of opportunities exist in the area of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Friends of the Earth. Alternatively, there are further opportunities in both Governments (for example, the Department for the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, known as DEFRA), regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency, and Local Government.
Depending on your area, clients can vary from large corporate entities to individuals, charities to the government, and the areas of law involved can be just as varied. They can include diverse areas such as corporate, criminal, finance, and property, so look at those practice areas as well. With many directives issued from Brussels, EU law has a huge impact on this area.
Types Of Environmental Law
Here are some of the types of environmental law:
The Energy Law includes all legal provisions governing the use and taxation of renewable energy sources. for example, hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass. And non-renewable resources. Examples are nuclear, coal, and gas. Government-affiliated lawyers in this sector assist in developing and enforcing energy regulation policies. Private energy lawyers may also act as in-house counsel for utility companies.
The international environment goes beyond the U.S. government. In this case, power resides with international bodies set up to target specific environmental problems such as air pollution and ozone pollution that affect different countries.
According to the World Health Organization, climate change impacts water, air quality, shelter, and food resources, all of which factor into human health. These determinants are precisely what climate change policies seek to preserve. Climate change law ensures that the earth remains a habitable abode for humans and animals to thrive for the foreseeable future.
Climate change lawyers advise clients on technological innovations that can help reduce carbon emissions and global warming.
This aspect of environmental law protects poor and marginalized communities from exposure to resource extraction and land use hazards. Environmental justice lawyers represent low-income communities by suing the government agencies and corporations responsible for harmful exposures.
Land Use Law
This aspect of law governs the use of land, setting legal standards for city planning and zoning. Land use lawyers may work in the public sector, enforcing land usage policies to protect natural resources and wildlife. They could also work for corporations and developers, using their skills to challenge land use limitations stipulated by the government.
Water laws protect rivers, lakes, and oceans from pollution. These policies guard aquatic organisms and humans alike. When people have access to clean water, this reduces the risk of contracting waterborne diseases. In addition, water laws preserve aquatic ecosystems by keeping marine habitats free from oil spills and other carbon emission.
Pollution control law prohibits the use and spread of substances that contaminate air, soil, and water. These laws are often drafted and enforced by pollution control lawyers on behalf of the government.
Environmental Lawyer Job Duties
Environmental lawyers are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
. Negotiating settlements on behalf of their clients in cases involving environmental damage claims.
. Representing clients in court trials, administrative hearings, and other legal proceedings.
. Monitoring legislation and regulations to identify potential conflicts that may affect their cases.
. Reviewing cases to determine if they have grounds for appeal.
. Drafting contracts and business agreements, including leases, licenses, purchase agreements, and partnership agreements.
. Researching applicable laws and regulations to form a sound legal argument for each case.
. Reviewing scientific research related to cases to build strong legal arguments.
. Preparing legal documents such as complaints, briefs, subpoenas, and motions.
How to Become an Environmental Lawyer?
Becoming an environmental lawyer requires a combination of education, experience, and dedication to the field. By following these steps, you can embark on a successful career path as an environmental lawyer:
Obtain A Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to becoming an environmental lawyer is to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, preferably in a relevant field such as environmental science, political science, or pre-law. This will provide you with a strong foundation in environmental policy, law, and regulation.
Pass The Law School Admission Test Examination
Using the knowledge you’ve gathered, you can prepare to take the LSAT, which students typically take while they’re completing their junior year of school. There is usually a maximum number of times you can take the LSAT throughout the year, and it’s a large deciding factor for a law school admissions team, so it’s important to adequately study for the exam and feel comfortable with the concepts on the test.
Attend Law School
After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you will need to attend an accredited law school to earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Make sure to choose a law school with a strong environmental law program, as this specialization will be crucial in your career.
Pass The Bar Exam
To become an environmental lawyer, you must pass the bar exam in the state where you intend to practice. This is because some states have state-specific bar exams, while others require that the test taker complete a state-specific essay portion of the exam. No matter which states you’re taking the exam in, your exam will likely cover topics that test your knowledge of law school concepts as well as your critical thinking and analytical abilities.
During or after law school, gain experience by pursuing internships or clerkships with environmental law firms, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies. This hands-on experience is essential to building a strong resume and understanding the intricacies of environmental law practice.
Specialize In Environmental Law
To deepen your expertise in environmental law, consider pursuing additional certifications or attending specialized training programs. For example, you might earn a Master of Law (LLM) in Environmental Law or a similar advanced degree from an accredited university.
Network With Professionals
Establish connections with other environmental lawyers and professionals in the field through networking events, conferences, and professional organizations. These connections can be invaluable in finding job opportunities and staying up-to-date with industry trends.
Environmental Lawyer Skills
Environmental lawyers need the following skills to be successful:
They often work with businesses to help them understand and comply with environmental regulations. Business skills like negotiation, persuasion, and contract review can be useful to environmental lawyers.
Environmental lawyers research topics and cases to support their arguments. They research laws, regulations, and procedures to understand how to proceed with a case. They also research topics to understand the environmental impact of a project or company.
Environmental lawyers use technical skills to research and interpret legal documents, conduct research, and develop strategies for their clients. Technical skills are also important for communicating with clients and other lawyers. For example, technical skills can help you explain complex legal language to your clients and help you draft contracts and other legal documents.
Environmental lawyers often use their problem-solving skills to find solutions to environmental issues. They may research environmental laws and regulations to find solutions that comply with them. Also, they use their problem-solving skills to find solutions to environmental issues that aren’t regulated by law.
They communicate with a variety of people, including clients, other lawyers, government officials, and members of the public. Effective communication skills can help you convey your ideas and information to others, answer questions, and resolve conflicts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions:
Why Become an Environmental Lawyer?
Environmental law is important for both individuals and corporations. For lawyers who represent corporations, they provide a critical service that enables the corporation to conduct business lawfully. Lawyers who work for the EPA protect the public interest. In addition, lawyers help individuals protect their peace and safety when they’re personally aggrieved by rulebreakers.
Lawyers in the field have the opportunity to influence local, state, national, and international policies. For lawyers who have personal goals to influence environmental policies, the area of law can provide that opportunity.
What Undergraduate Degree Is Best for Environmental Law?
There aren’t any specific undergraduate requirements for environmental law, which means you can ultimately study the topics you’re most interested in. That said, it’s beneficial to focus on areas that will hone the skills you’ll need as a future environmental lawyer. For example, degrees in science and ecology can provide a solid foundation for understanding issues surrounding the environment.
English, philosophy, and communication studies are also useful since environmental lawyers will spend a great deal of time writing and editing legal documents as well as public speaking. Degrees that encompass a wide variety of topics, such as humanities, economics, and political science, are also popular choices among environmental lawyers.