Should I enroll in Earthrise if I also plan to do an internship or externship?
Yes! Many students participate in Earthrise and do an off-campus internship or externship during different years or, occasionally, concurrently with their Earthrise clinical experience. Earthrise and off-campus externships and internships offer quite different types of educational experiences. Compared to internships and externships, Earthrise includes a valuable classroom component and is taught by Lewis & Clark’s own clinical faculty and Earthrise staff attorneys. Your education is our top priority.
Can I take Earthrise if I have worked for the government or a private firm?
Yes! We have dozens of current and prior clinical students who have worked for government agencies or private law firms before, during, or after their enrollment in Earthrise. Prior to starting the clinic Earthrise, we will do a conflicts check to make sure that your prior work and your work during your time with the clinic do not conflict. Working concurrently for certain government agencies (US or Oregon DOJ, US Atty. Office in Portland, for example) or private firms who are representing parties currently adverse to Earthrise clients is not possible because such concurrent work creates unavoidable ethical conflicts. However, it is almost always possible to work for such agencies or firms before or after enrolling in Earthrise because you can address such past conflicts issues with full disclosure and a little planning.
Is Earthrise highly selective?
No. Earthrise seeks academically successful students with a demonstrated commitment to environmental and natural resource protection and who are motivated to help Earthrise represent local, regional and national environmental groups in public interest litigation. But there is no longer an application process for Earthrise. We have a minimum GPA requirement, prerequisite requirements, and a cap of 25 students, but exceptions to any requirement will be considered on an individual basis. The vast majority of students who choose to enroll in Earthrise will be admitted. To enroll for the clinic, please see additional details here.
Should I take the Earthrise clinic during my 2L or 3L year?
We prefer 3Ls because we have found that some exposure to environmental, natural resources, and administrative law and advanced research and writing leads to a more rewarding clinical experience for our students. That said, many 2L students successfully complete the clinic each year. Enrollment in the clinic is open to all rising 2Ls, 3Ls, and LLM students at Lewis & Clark Law School.
What role do clinical students have at Earthrise?
Our clinical students work with Earthrise clinical faculty and staff attorneys to draft pleadings and motions, formulate arguments and legal strategy, conduct legal or factual research relevant to our ongoing cases, and participate in meetings with clients and opposing counsel. Given the varied nature of litigation there is no “typical” student experience, but we aim to expose all students to a variety of topics and skill-developing opportunities, and try to ensure every student works on at least one major pleading, motion, or section of a brief.
What is the difference between the Earthrise Clinic and the summer clerkship at Earthrise?
During the academic year, clinical students participate in a yearlong experience that requires 105 hours of clinical work per semester (which includes up to 2 hours per week for class preparation) and attendance at our weekly seminar on Friday afternoons (which includes lunch!). It is a pass-fail course, the successful completion of which gives you 3 credits per semester, just like any other course.
During the summers, we hire full-time law clerks to help with our litigation docket. The work performed by our law clerks is similar to that performed by our clinical students, except that there is no classroom component to the clerkship. You do not have to have taken the clinic to apply for our summer clerkship, but most of our past summer clerks have taken the clinic either before or after their clerkships.
Can my Earthrise work product be used as a writing sample or to satisfy by capstone or other academic writing obligations?
Yes, but only with the prior approval of a Clinic Director and your supervising Earthrise attorney. We function like a law firm, and thus much of our students’ written work product is confidential or privileged and cannot be shared outside of the clinic. If you wish to use a non-confidential document (i.e., a filed complaint or brief) to satisfy your legal writing requirements, we encourage you to discuss this with your supervising attorney as early in the year as possible.
How is Earthrise different from NEDC, IELP, and WRLC?
Earthrise is the domestic environmental litigation clinic housed at Lewis & Clark Law School, and we represent public-interest environmental organizations in federal and state litigation and related administrative advocacy nationwide. We are a part of the Law School and are staffed by clinical faculty as well as staff attorneys and legal fellows.
The Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) is a separate nonprofit organization that keeps an office on campus. NEDC is frequently a client of Earthrise and NEDC’s student volunteers do not get course credit for their work. Students may take the clinic while also being involved with NEDC.
The International Environmental Law Project (IELP) is also a clinic like Earthrise (its enrolled students are supervised by clinical faculty members) but its focus is on international environmental law and policy, with no litigation. Students can participate in both IELP and Earthrise, but not at the same time.
Unlike Earthrise, the Western Resources Legal Center (WRLC) is not a Lewis & Clark clinic and its attorneys are not Lewis & Clark Law School faculty. It is a separate organization that maintains an office on campus. WRLC’s focus is on representing the interests of those who use public natural resources for profit. As a result, in several cases, Earthrise and WRLC have represented opposing interests in litigation. Students may not be concurrently enrolled in Earthrise and WRLC because of these conflicts.