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International Environmental Law Project (IELP)

Meg Patterson ’10

I worked at the clinic from 2008 to 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 nonprofit—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.