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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

Joint Degree

Fact Sheet

Lewis & Clark Law School offers a joint J.D. /LL.M. degree program in environmental law. The joint degree is designed for Lewis & Clark law students who would like to obtain both a J.D. degree and a post-J.D. (Master’s) LL.M. degree in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law.

Note that the LL.M. is an optional post-J.D. degree and it is not a required degree for bar application or law practice. The J.D. degree is the required law degree for law practice. Applicants who are interested in pursuing the J.D. degree only will be able to study environmental law through our J.D. program and will have the opportunity to receive a Certificate in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law. The LL.M. degree is only for those students who wish to pursue further study in environmental law beyond their J.D. studies.

When the J.D. and LL.M. degrees are pursued separately, it generally takes a full-time student three years (six semesters) to earn a J.D. degree and one year (two semesters) to earn a LL.M. degree. The joint degree program will allow Lewis & Clark law students to receive both degrees in three-and-a-half years (seven semesters). Part-time options are also available.

The joint program is available only to students who will receive their J.D. from Lewis & Clark. Students who earn their J.D. degree from another law school are still eligible to apply for the LL.M. at Lewis & Clark as a separate two-semester degree program.

A joint degree student will first complete all requirements for the J.D. degree. After completing the J.D. degree, the student will then move into the “LL.M. phase” of the program. Up to 12 credits of approved environmental and natural resources classes earned as a J.D. will be applied towards the LL.M. degree. In the LL.M. phase of the joint degree, the student will then complete the additional credits of approved coursework needed for the LL.M. degree.

There are two possible times an applicant can apply to the joint program: at the same time the applicant applies to the J.D. program (available to applicants for fall 2009 or later) or after completion of at least two semesters of study at Lewis & Clark as a J.D. Students admitted to the joint degree program prior to starting the J.D. will be conditionally admitted to the LL.M. program in that they must maintain a certain GPA as a J.D. in order to continue on to the LL.M. phase of the program.

Applicants who wish to be considered for admission to the joint program prior to starting the J.D. program (available to applicants for fall 2009 or later) should check the “joint degree” box on the J.D. application form and include a short additional statement regarding their interest in and qualifications for the LL.M. degree. Admission to the J.D. program is a prerequisite for admission to the joint program. An applicant will still be considered for admission to the J.D. program alone if not admitted to the joint program. Applicants who are not admitted to the joint program at the time of J.D. admission are welcome to apply again later under the second method described below.

Students who wish to apply for the joint program after beginning the J.D. program at Lewis & Clark may do so at any time after completion of two semesters of study. These students will use the standard LL.M. application and include a statement of interest in and qualifications for the LL.M. program.

Note that the size of the LL.M. program may be limited in any given year and will also include students who have received their J.D. from another law school who are pursuing the LL.M. degree as a separate program.

Obtaining an LL.M. degree is not for everyone. It will require at least one semester’s worth of work and tuition beyond the J.D. degree. The LL.M. degree is not a required degree to take any bar exam in the United States and employers rarely, if ever, require a job applicant to hold an LL.M. degree in addition to a J.D. degree. The J.D. is the qualifying degree to take a bar exam and to practice law in the U.S. (with a few exceptions) and, in most cases, Lewis & Clark students will find that obtaining the J.D. degree, along with the Environmental and Natural Resources Certificate, provides adequate opportunities for employment.

However, for some students, the additional LL.M. degree may be of benefit and will allow students to take additional classes, as well as pursue at least one additional writing project. In general, we encourage students to seek an LL.M. because they wish to pursue additional study in environmental law.

For more information, you may consult our student handbook, What’s What, or contact one of our joint degree program administrators, Janice Weis or Lucy Brehm, for further guidance and suggestions. Contact Janice at or 503-768-6649, or Lucy at or 503-768-6882.