March 25, 2022

Online LLM Graduate in Environmental Law Reflects on the Experience

Kenyan Franklin Lagat said the program expanded his knowledge in environmentalism and wildlife law substantially.

Nairobi native Franklin Lagat recently graduated with a Masters of Law (LLM) degree in Environmental Law through the online program offered at Lewis & Clark Law School. Lagat spoke about the degree and how it expanded and broadened his knowledge of environmental issues and wildlife law.

Lagat was completing his final month of a 2-year stint at Wildlife Direct in Nairobi when he became seriously interested in pursuing an LLM. Prior to the LLM, he had focused his career on wildlife and environmental conservation. He realized he had reached a “plateau of [his] young professional career” and “pursuing an LLM was the obvious choice to gain the necessary knowledge” needed to advance in the field of wildlife conservation.

Lagat found out about the Environmental LLM degree from an internet search. He realized that his original desire to focus on “the pursuit of specific sustainable development goals” was too limited and found that the LLM was “an avenue to promote biodiversity protection and [reach] socio-economic and human rights spheres to advance sustainable development goals” broadly.

The online LLM gave Lagat important flexibility. He noted that the “online program gives the participant the opportunity to plan the program around their professional life. This ensures engagement in professional development without uprooting one’s life.” Further, Lagat was excited about how the LLM required “a participant to explore and examine their beliefs and opinions deeply on assigned topics,” as well as appreciating and understanding the viewpoints of others. Lagat remarked that the choice between the online or the in-person Environmental LLM program is “a matter of preference” but that he found the online program offered “the perks of traditional courses without sacrificing the quality of the learning experience.”

Lagat said that “before [he] started the program, he was confident in his conservation expertise,” but through the LLM he realized that his previous knowledge was “a tad superficial” and recommended “anyone with an interest in environmentalism to pursue the program.” Through the LLM, Lagat “came across different perspectives on familiar topics…and interact[ed] with people from diverse backgrounds and varied outlooks on common themes.”

Working with Professor Russ Mead, Lagat formed a conservation nonprofit organization, Biodiversity Observer Inc. in his final semester of the LLM program. Biodiversity Observer Inc.’s mission is to “conserve biodiversity and address climate change through policy, science, and art.” Lagat is currently focused on completing the background and research work to get the organization up and running, and is also registering the organization in Kenya, which may take about three months.

The Lewis & Clark Law Environmental LLM degree provides attorney students with excellent preparation for practicing, teaching, or policy-making in the environmental, natural resources, and energy law field. The program is available via a distance learning (online/remote)as well as in person on the Lewis & Clark Portland Oregon campus Applications for the LLM programs are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Contact Associate Director, Lucy Brehm at or 503-768-6882. Information and applications are available for the on campus LLM program, and the distance learning LLM program.