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
- 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
Earthrise no longer requires that students apply first before they can enroll in the clinic, but there are certain eligibility requirements for those who wish to enroll. Starting with the registration period for the 2019-20 school year, students who are eligible should select the 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). The conflicts form that you will need to fill out after you enroll in Earthrise can be found here.
Welcome to our Earthrise student clerks for the 2017-2018 law school year!
Earthrise had another great summer with three clerks who were able to get hands on experience working on ongoing litigation.
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.
Summer Clerk Sangye Ince-Johansen discusses his time working for Earthrise with staff attorney Nina Robertson at our new San Francisco office.
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.
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.