December 15, 2021

Professor Michele Okoh Joins Lewis & Clark Law Faculty

Professor Michele Okoh, with experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, will be teaching criminal law in the fall. Her scholarly research examines the intersection of criminal justice, environmental justice and public health.

Michele Okoh, a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University School of Law, joins the Lewis & Clark Law School faculty in fall of 2022. She has extensive experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, and most recently, as a law professor. She earned her JD from Duke University and will hold a Masters in Public Health from George Washington University when she joins Lewis & Clark.

Okoh’s scholarly work lies at the intersection of criminal justice, environmental justice and public health. Her research agenda focuses on the criminal elements of environmental statutes and how those provisions could be better utilized to improve social, economic, health, and racial justice. “I am justice focused,” says Okoh. “Throughout my law practice, I have witnessed the gaps as far as the law is concerned, and want to address those.”

She recently received the Rebecca A. Head Award from the American Public Health Association (APHA), for being “an outstanding emerging leader in environmental health working at the intersection of environmental justice, science, and policy.”

She has presented her research on COVID-19 medical waste and environmental justice at the American Public Health Association 2021 annual meeting, as well as publishing it in the journal, Administrative & Regulatory Law News (2020).

Her forthcoming publication in the Florida International University Law Review, “The Need for Social Support from Law Schools During the Era of Social Distancing,” was borne out of her experience working closely with students in the Duke University Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.

“I am looking forward to joining the Lewis & Clark community,” said Okoh. “During my visit there I found the students to be passionate and curious. Those I spoke to view law as a calling, wanting to be able to use the law to serve others. As lawyers, it is not about us, it is about our clients. That dedication and commitment from students reflect on the whole institution.”

“Michele will be an excellent addition to our faculty,” remarked Dean Jennifer Johnson. “Her scholarship ventures beyond the usual boundaries of legal disciplines and examines at how public health influences criminal activity and how disparities in clean air, water and land affect our under-served communities disproportionately. Michele has already connected with many of our professors and I look forward to innovative research and programs for our law students and our legal community.”

Prior to becoming a member of the Duke Law faculty, Okoh managed her own law practice representing individuals with disabilities in Eastern North Carolina. She worked as an associate attorney general for the North Carolina Department of Justice and an assistant district attorney for the 7th Judicial District in North Carolina. She gained policy and litigation experience through her post-law school work with the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the Honorable Allyson Duncan of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.