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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

Associate Dean Janice Weis: reflections on 20 years as Director of the Environmental Law Program

October 22, 2014

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    Associate Dean Janice Weis at the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite where she presented on "Yosemite and the Law Today - 150 Years Later".

November marks my 20th anniversary at Lewis & Clark as the director of the environmental and natural resources law program.  As the adage goes, time flies when you’re having fun, and it has, indeed, been fun to be a part of this wonderful program.  A few highlights of some program developments over the past two decades include:

–Additions to our curriculum to cover a variety of important and cutting-edge issues such as climate change, renewable energy, sustainability, environmental justice, and food and agriculture.  These courses joined our already expansive menu of environmental and natural resources classes and practical skills options.

–The creation of the Green Energy Institute which focuses on fostering the development and implementation of renewable energy— the GEI hosts fellows each year and will soon oversee the building of a solar project in the law school’s parking lot

–The expansion of our global outreach. We’ve enjoyed faculty and student exchanges with law schools in India and Korea, and continue to grow our international LLM program. One highlight was the international water law conference we organized with our friends at the National Law University of Delhi, and sending a contingent of faculty, staff and students to represent Lewis & Clark.

–The addition, in 2013, of a new Master of Studies in Environmental and Natural Resources Law designed for students who are interested in learning about environmental law for their professional development but who do not want or need a law degree.  The MSL degree joins our JD environmental certificate program, LLM, and joint JD/LLM offerings in environmental law.

–Our annual environmental forum which allows us to explore an important natural resources or environmental topic each year and invite leading scholars and practitioners to our campus each year to participate.

–The growth of our two environmental clinics, Earthrise and the International Environmental Law Project, as well as numerous environmental internships that can be done here in Portland or anywhere in the world.

–Our amazing environmental moot court team, which has been a contender for the national title many times over the last twenty years, advancing to the semi-finals over 15 times, and winning the competition seven times.

The past 20 years have also seen tremendous changes in the city of Portland. Now on the map as one of America’s most sustainable cities, our students have the opportunity to work and intern with some of the most progressive businesses and organizations in the country.  In addition, Portland now bears the proud label of one of the nation’s “food capitals” with its leadership on supporting production of local, sustainable food, premier restaurants, and strong farming and winery businesses.  With our student’s increased interest in pursuing legal careers related to food, we have the opportunity to educate students and others in the food law area through classes, internships, and conferences.  This March we will host a food law conference in collaboration with our business law and animal law programs. 

While our city and program have changed over the years, two things have remained the same in important ways. We are fortunate to have a deeply committed and talented faculty who, for my twenty years here and well before, demonstrate a true open door policy for our students and who exhibit vision and creativity for the program. Likewise, our students are still passionate, engaged and focused, while remaining friendly and supportive with each other. 

Time does fly, and we’re still having fun in this great city with our amazing program.