• Preparing tomorrow’s advocates to defend our natural heritage

    Earthrise Law Center maximizes its impact through the work of talented and committed law students. While Earthrise’s staff attorneys retain ultimate responsibility for case prosecution, students play a vital role at Earthrise by participating in all phases of the clinic’s work. Students draft pleadings and motions, formulate arguments and strategy, and participate in client contacts.

    In addition to receiving invaluable hands-on experience, students earn law school credit for their work with Earthrise. The environmental clinic class supplements student casework by providing additional instruction on the practice of environmental law. The class meets once per week. Class topics include informal discussions about current projects, lectures on aspects of environmental practice, and contact with local practitioners.

    The environmental community reaps benefits from increasing the pool of law school graduates with substantial real-world experience and training. Earthrise students and externs are tomorrow’s advocates for our natural heritage. Many Earthrise alums now lead the charge in working to preserve and protect the environment as attorneys in public interest, government, and private practice.

The Earthrise Student Experience

Earthrise Law Center provides two opportunities for rising 2L, 3L and LLM Lewis & Clark Law students: the academic year clinic and the summer clerkship.

The Earthrise Clinic

Earthrise Law Center offers a 3 credit per semester clinic during the fall and spring semesters. Students enrolled in the clinic during the school year work on actual environmental cases under the supervision of Earthrise’s three clinical professors. Students are assigned to work on a variety of cases across a broad spectrum of environmental issues utilizing statutes such as the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act. They delve into the details of a case, present the facts to the class and collaboratively devise winning strategies. The matters on the docket provide students with the opportunity to work on litigation on in depth, complex, and environmentally important lawsuits. Students will interact directly with clients and make connections that will benefit their future careers. The clinic represents an array of environmental organizations seeking to prevent or reduce pollution and protect wildlife, habitat, and ecosystems. 

The close one-on-one and small group relationships fostered by our 1:3 or 4 faculty-to-student ratio encourages strong student development in fundamental lawyering skills, including:

  • Problem Solving
  • Legal Analysis and Reasoning
  • Communication
  • Legal Research
  • Factual Investigation
  • Organization and Management of Legal Work
  • Litigation Strategy

Each week, students are expected to attend and participate in a 2-hour classroom component, meet with a supervising attorney, as well as work 10 hours outside of class on average each week on cases as assigned. Grading is currently on a pass/no pass basis, but Earthrise may adopt the grading system currently used for externships. Class attendance is mandatory. Depending on the work in the clinic, there is a possibility that a WIE paper can be completed. Prior professor permission and consent is needed. Talk to an Earthrise professor for more information. Students who enroll in Earthrise also are eligible to take Earthrise Ethics, a two-semester, one credit per semester course that satisfies the Professional Responsibility graduation requirement.

Unlike an externship, enrolling in the clinic fulfills a student’s “highly specialized” requirement and professional responsibility credits, if they take Earthrise Ethics.

Enrolling in Earthrise

Students must apply and be accepted before they can enroll in the clinic. The application will open a few weeks before registration. More details about the application process will be provided at a later date. If a student is selected, they will choose Earthrise Clinic as one of their course selections during the normal registration process.

Any student who has finished the first year of law school and has achieved a 2.6 GPA or higher is eligible to take the Earthrise clinic. Students with lower GPAs can contact an Earthrise professor and seek permission to enroll. Such permission will depend on each student’s individual circumstances, but will often be granted if the student is a rising 3L. Students enrolling in Earthrise also must have taken Environmental Law and Administrative Law or be enrolled in those courses concurrently with their Earthrise enrollment. Although not a mandatory prerequisite, Earthrise professors strongly encourage students to take Environmental Litigation before they enroll in Earthrise or concurrently.

Enrollment is limited to 25 students. However, any student may initially register as part of a two-step process towards final enrollment. After Spring grades are in, all registrants will go through a compliance check regarding meeting the pre-/co-requisites and minimum GPA requirements. By registering for this clinic, you are giving permission for the Registrar’s office to provide your cumulative GPA to the Earthrise professors after Spring grades are in. 

If more than 25 students are registered at the time of the compliance check, then final enrollment preference will be given to rising 3Ls. You will be notified by the end of June about your enrollment status. In addition, after final enrollment, each student will be contacted in order to clear any potential conflicts of interest. Students must also sign a confidentiality agreement before they start working on any Earthrise cases. See discussion below.

Earthrise prefers a full year commitment (three credits per semester), but students can register for just one semester if they have scheduling conflicts that prevent them registering for both semesters. However, students who only enroll in Earthrise for one semester cannot enroll in Earthrise Ethics, which is a mandatory two-semester course. 


Because students enrolled in Earthrise are working on real litigation matters for real clients, Earthrise professors must insure that students will protect clients’ confidential information and that students’ prior or concurrent legal work will not create any ethical conflicts of interest.  For purposes of screening conflicts, “legal work” includes all legal internships, externships, other clinics, paid or unpaid legal work or work solely for academic credit for lawyers, law firms, or not-for-profit groups or legal services organization, and any volunteer legal work. Because conflicts based on concurrent work are much more difficult to resolve, students may not enroll in Earthrise while they are also working for the U.S. or Oregon Departments of Justice, a U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Department of the Interior’s Solicitor’s Office, the Bonneville Power Administration, or any federal judge. Other concurrent legal work will need to be evaluated individually for potential conflicts. Conflicts created by past legal work are easier to resolve, but they must also be disclosed and evaluated before you can complete your final enrollment in Earthrise. Generally, your past work for federal and state agencies and federal and state legal offices will not create conflicts that would prevent you from enrolling in Earthrise (but it might require that you be screened from a particular Earthrise matter). Download this conflicts form that you will need to fill out after you enroll in Earthrise.

accomplishments, earthrise-summer, education-issues, education

Summer Interns at Earthrise

Earthrise had another great summer with three clerks who were able to get hands on experience working on ongoing litigation.
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Rising Issues #18

Our latest newsletter detailing opposition to mining near Mount St. Helens, another summer of the “Tomorrow’s Advocates” program, information about upcoming events, and welcoming our new legal fellow.
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Welcome Earthrise Class of 2017-2018!

Welcome to our Earthrise student clerks for the 2017-2018 law school year!
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From Our First Summer Clerk in San Francisco

Summer Clerk Sangye Ince-Johansen discusses his time  working for Earthrise with staff attorney Nina Robertson at our new San Francisco office.
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Craig Johnston Steps Down as Director of Earthrise

Professor Craig Johnston has stepped down as director of Earthrise law center, passing on the role to attorneys Allison LaPlante and Tom Buchele. As one of the original founders of the clinic, Craig’s leadership has been a great benefit to Lewis & Clark law school, the students, and the planet.

accomplishments, earthrise-summer, education-issues, education, law, student

Introducing Earthrise’s 2017 Summer Clerks

Earthrise Law Center is excited to introduce the six law clerks that will be working at the Earthrise offices in Portland and in San Francisco this summer.
accomplishments, education-issues, education, staff, student

Earthrise Legal Fellow Says Farewell

Founders Legacy Legal Fellow, Ryan Shannon, leaves Earthrise Law Center and moves on to a great position as Staff Attorney at Center for Biological Diversity. We’ll miss him, but he’s not going far.
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“Around the Pier” with Samantha Murray

Murray is the new executive director of the Biodiversity Masters program at UCSD’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography. She is an Earthrise alumni from 2003. 
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Earthrise Clinic Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2017

It’s time to apply to be a part of the Earthrise Clinic for the 2017-18 School Year! Deadline is March 24th. 

accomplishments, education-issues, education

Summer Clerkship Applications Now Being Accepted

2Ls (or anyone with 32 credits) can apply from now until December 2nd, 2016 by 5pm to work with Earthrise this summer as a Tomorrow’s Advocate. The Tomorrow’s Advocates program enables select Lewis & Clark law students to clerk for 10 weeks during the summer months as externs or paid interns. 1L’s will be able to apply in January 2017.
education-issues, education, student

Meet the 2016-2017 Earthrise Class

Meet the students of the 2016-2017 Earthrise Class. They are already hard at work on cases involving a methanol pipeline, timber sales and water quality issues.
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Summer Extern Chillemi Joins Attorney Rohlf at the Table for Oral Argument on Cormorant Culling on the Columbia River

Earthrise Attorney and Professor Dan Rohlf and Summer Extern Tessa Chillemi gave oral argument Wednesday in front of Judge Simon of the Federal District Court of Oregon.
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Earthrise Summer Extern Scores Clerkship with her Writing Skills

Congratulations to Earthrise summer clerk, Julia Fraser as she begins her new litigation clerkship!
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Travel Log Part 2: Dan Rohlf Teaches Environmental Law in South Korea for the Summer

Teaching in Korea: Installment 2 Attorney and Earthrise Faculty Dan Rohlf teaches a three-week summer school class, Comparative Environmental Law, at Kangwon National University Law School in Chuncheon, South Korea.
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For Fly-Fisher Mark Tuai, Environmentalism and Sport Inextricably Intertwined

Mark Tuai gains real world experience being around a team of extraordinary attorneys dedicated to improving the environment.