The Best Environmental Law Schools in the US

Environmental law is one of the broadest areas of law you could imagine, and the best environmental law schools may cover the topic in dozens of courses from Administrative Law to International Law to–you guessed it–Environmental Law. It’s a blanket term that covers laws that have any kind of impact on human interactions with the environment.

When people think of a career as an environmental lawyer, they often assume it means working for the government (the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, National Park Service, etc…) or one of the myriad environmental non-profits like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, Greenpeace, Earthjustice…the list goes on and on. What many don’t realize is that there are also numerous private law firms that specialize in environmental law issues, some of which may provide careers just as lucrative as working in areas like IP law or corporate litigation. So, while there are many tireless crusaders fighting for the environment and making pennies to the dollar compared to attorneys at the big firms, that’s not the only path for a person interested in environmental law. In fact, if you absolutely hate nature, love global warming, and want to invest in Midwestern properties that you’re sure will soon be oceanfront, then you could even study environmental law as a way to defend the big, bad corporate polluters of the world. Please don’t do that. 😉

So, which are the best environmental law schools in the US?

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1. Vermont Law School

Coming in at number one is Vermont Law School. They run the “Environmental Law Center (ELC).” In the ELC students and faculty work together to try and solve a lot of the issues surrounding environmental law. It’s a pretty unique program, and definitely worth a look. The school also offers a ton of environmental law classes and several clinics as well.

2. Lewis and Clark College School of Law

Lewis and Clark is also top notch. They have a very large environmental law program which includes a specialized environmental law J.D. and LLM. The school also offers environmental clinics, a summer program, and various opportunities for students to go abroad, to places like India, to get first-hand experience in global, environmental law issues.

3. Pace University

Pace’s environmental law program has been around since 1978. They offer students lots of resources, from over 40 environmental law classes, as well as local and international internships and externships. Additionally, they have the Global Center for Environmental Studies, a center that works with international organizations to address global environmental issues; the Energy and Climate Center, where students and faculty alike try to help influence environmental laws through research and collaboration with government agencies; and the Land Use Law Center, which is dedicated to helping local communities create sustainable communities.

4. University of California Law School

Cal Law School in Berkeley, California, offers a great smattering of environmental law classes. They also offer students the ability to perform research along with faculty members through its Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment. They also have a great environmental law clinic that opened up last year.

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  • Randall

    Randall earned his JD from the University of Denver in 2013. He received his BA in Communications and Social Science from the University of Washington in 2010. Randall took the LSAT twice, and managed to improve his score by 14 points the second time around. He paid the price of learning to score high on the LSAT and hopes to help other potential law students avoid similar pain.

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2 Responses to The Best Environmental Law Schools in the US

  1. Aryama Singh February 8, 2018 at 1:43 PM #

    Hello! Your article is insightful.
    I am about to finish my bachelors in technology from India and pusue Master’s from the States in an environmental science related field. After completion of my Master’s, I am contemplating of pursuing law(I am more inclined towards JD in environmental law though I am interested in IPR as well). I realise it’s a long shot right now and I am years away from actually pursuing law, but can you elaborate more about the salary aspect of environment law and prospects of an International student getting a job after pursuing an MS degree in environment related field and then a JD in environment law?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM #

      Hi Aryama,

      Wow, those are some pretty big questions! As you yourself have said, it’s hard to predict exactly how your environmental law career might play out int he future. But I’ll do my best. 🙂

      The general consensus on environmental law is that it’s a field that is growing slowly but steadily. So in the coming years, there should be a decent number of job openings in environmental law. The pay range seems to be just a little over $100,000 per year. I’m generallys eeing average pay estimates between $115K per year and $135K per year for this kind of legal work.

      In terms of external research, Harvard Law has a free PDF eBook online that talks about how to build a career in environmental law. And’s page on career prospects in environmental law could also be useful for you.

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