School navigation

Advocate Magazine

International Environmental Law Project

The International Environmental Law Project (IELP) provides students with opportunities to participate in international environmental law and policy, tackling some of today’s most challenging global issues including climate change, biodiversity conservation, oceans and fisheries, and trade, and the environment. IELP works with governments and NGOs to develop, implement, and enforce international environmental law.

Alumna Profile

Maura Sullivan ’07Maura Sullivan ’07Maura Sullivan ’07

Section Chief, Office of General Counsel, Alaska Section of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
When did you work in the clinic? What did you do?

I worked at IELP in 2007, when I was a 3L. I advocated for the incorporation of monitoring, control, and surveillance provisions in the Pacific Salmon Treaty. I also gathered and analyzed trade data and prepared an analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) permitting rules. Finally, I traveled with Professors Chris Wold and Erica Lyman to the 14th CITES Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, to engage governmental and nongovernmental delegates in discussions about the issues for which IELP was advocating.

IMPACT

IELP recently challenged the failure of Japan and Korea to provide valuable fisheries data to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). IELP debunked the argument of those two WCPFC members who declared they had “domestic legal constraints” preventing them from submitting the data. Japan and Korea are now submitting their fisheries data.

What work are you doing now?

As the section chief for NOAA’s Alaska Section, I supervise seven attorneys and related professional staff. Most recently, I was a member of the U.S. delegation at the Fourth Meeting of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission in Tokyo. I’ve provided legal advice to NOAA Fisheries on issues arising under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, among others.

What parts of your clinic experience helped prepare you for your career?

At IELP, I drafted analytical documents in preparation for the CITES Conference. I received valuable mentoring from Professors Wold and Lyman, who taught me to embrace the revision process. Based on their advice that stressed “know your audience,” their quick feedback on my written products, and their high expectations, I learned to convey complex concepts to a wide range of individuals holding different perspectives.

A memorable moment?

During the CITES Conference, I observed a nongovernmental delegate passing out information bulletins opposing a U.S. proposal to remove lynx from CITES Appendix II. An official at the CITES Conference informed the delegate that she was prohibited from passing out the bulletins. In response, the delegate approached members of the U.S. delegation and requested that they ask the CITES official to allow her to continue to pass them out. The United States did not hesitate to intervene despite the fact that the bulletins at issue provided information opposing a U.S. proposal. In that moment I knew that I wanted to work for the U.S. federal government.

How do you view the clinic now?

IELP affords each student the opportunity to take ownership of a specific international environmental issue, with the flexibility to tailor their projects to personal interests where feasible. IELP harnesses students’ passion for preserving species and their environments for future generations.

Share this story on

Advocate Magazine

Contact Us