2004 - 2005
As a foreign student, IELP was a very attractive program. I was interested in cross-border environmental issues such as climate change and trade-related environmental issues, so I was excited to get into the program during my second year of law school. During the IELP clerkship, I helped prepare a practitioner’s handbook for local governments to develop eco-labels without violating international trade law. I also prepared a briefing for lawmakers relating to the WTO Appellate Body’s Report in the Sardines Case, a dispute between the European Union and Peru concerning the EU’s protectionist labeling practice disguised as a consumer safety measure.
My IELP experience motivated me to learn more about international environmental law. After having completed my IELP clerkship, I spent a semester in Washington, D.C. on an externship with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a prominent international environmental law think tank and advocacy organization. At CIEL, I helped CIEL attorneys finalize a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alleging, on behalf of the Inuit, that U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases violated the Inuit’s human rights. Inuit villages have been badly damaged by the retreat of sea ice and thawing of permafrost caused by climate change. This petition was the first effort to try to hold the United States, which accounts for roughly 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for its failure to mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions. The petition was filed in my final week at CIEL, after a multi-year effort coordinated by CIEL, Earthjustice, and the Inuit community. It was a thrilling experience for me to be part of the effort.
In my current work at Korea Environment Institute, a national research institute on environmental policies based in Seoul, I study international regime building on climate change and advise the Korean government on the UN climate change negotiations. My experience at IELP definitely helped me grow my interest in international environment law and further pursue my career in the field.
2010 - 2011
As a second year law student and a law clerk for IELP, I had the incredible opportunity of providing legal support for Pacific island nations during the United Nations climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico in December and again at a UNFCCC intersessional meeting in Bangkok, Thailand in April. The very existence of these Pacific island nations is being threatened by climate-induced sea level rise and often these countries lack the capacity to engage in the climate negotiations at the same level as larger, developed countries.
Because of doors opened by my work in IELP, I am currently spending a semester externing in the Pacific Island nation of Palau, where I am assisting the government in preparations for the upcoming climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa.
Working for IELP has been an amazing experience and has taken me further than I could have ever imagined. Both the clinical professors and my fellow IELP clerks have inspired me to continue working towards creative legal strategies that may aid the Pacific island nations fight against the impacts of climate change.
2000 - 2001
“My work within IELP helped me reconcile my international human rights background and my international environmental law specialty. I am now using the skills and the knowledge I have acquired in law school to help developing countries. I strongly recommend the IELP clinic to anyone interested in finding ways to make a difference internationally”
2008 - 2009
IELP played a big role in my decision to attend Lewis & Clark. As a whitewater raft guide in New Mexico, I quickly learned that river flows depend not only on precipitation, but also on domestic and international politics. A two-day rafting trip in Nepal, interrupted by a hydropower dam, furthered my interest in water policy; dams are not necessarily bad, but the lack of support for it among the local community and the river guides suggested the process was imperfect.
Needless to say, I was very excited when my first project in IELP involved drafting a water treaty for South Asia. I spent my first semester learning about international water law and its development, treaty law, and regional politics. I also worked with Professor Lyman on a law review article about the status of glaciers in international law. As a result of these experiences, I pursued an externship in Kathmandu, Nepal, working at a local non-profit—with a fellow IELP alumnus. One of my assignments involved developing an advocacy campaign about the effects of climate change on Nepal’s water resources, including its glaciers.
These experiences helped me to land my job at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), where I work on international water law and policy. I am currently working on getting the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention to enter into force—a convention I became very familiar with during my time at IELP. I feel so lucky to have not only a job, but my “dream job”—and my IELP experience certainly gave me an edge.
If you are an IELP alum, we would love to hear from you! Please contact us!