Energy, environmental, and natural resources (EENR) law encompasses a broad and ever-growing set of issues confronting society, including sustainable development, climate change, land and water use, pollution control and cleanup, natural resources use and conservation, energy development and distribution, indigenous rights, urban planning, and more. EENR lawyers find employment in the private sector, in government agencies, and in legislative bodies. They represent corporations, all levels of government, citizens, property owners, future generations, and even other (nonhuman) species.
Due to the myriad, diverse issues that EENR lawyers confront and the types of possible practices, a law student interested in a career in this field should seek training in a variety of legal areas. The College of Law offers a wide range of relevant courses and extracurricular opportunities. These Pathways are designed to help students navigate through the range of choices to determine what classes and opportunities will best serve his or her interests. Students interested in any subfield of EENR law should take one or more environmental law courses, starting in the fall of the second year of law school. Students interested in energy and/or natural resources should, in addition, take courses that focus on natural resources development, energy policy and regulation, and/or regulation of water and land use (private or public). The EENR law field is heavily statutory and regulatory; thus, administrative law, legislation, and courses that focus on regulatory agencies or policy formulation are highly useful. Knowledge of business structures, Indian law, real estate transactions, trusteeships, and insurance is also beneficial. Additionally, for some EENR careers, exposure to international law concepts and regimes is desirable. In addition to taking the appropriate substantive courses, all students should enroll in one or more practice or skills courses (including clinics or externships) and seminars.
The typical three-year legal education will not accommodate coursework in all these areas. But any student interested in EENR law can and should obtain a solid foundation by selecting appropriately from the available doctrinal and skills courses. Indeed, the specific courses taken may be less important than obtaining a sound, working knowledge of EENR legal regimes/concepts and proficiency in practice skills.