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Since the dawn of the Industrial Age, rapid advancements in technology have dramatically improved daily life for billions of people across the world. Unfortunately, many modern conveniences also deplete or harm the planet’s natural resources in unsustainable ways. Transitioning cities, nations, and the world toward more environmentally sustainable activities has thus emerged as one of humankind’s greatest 21st century challenges, and innovative lawmaking has a crucial role to play in this effort. The Program on Law and Sustainability at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University provides world-class instruction and meaningful research experiences that equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become influential leaders in the global sustainability movement. The program’s renowned faculty research and teach in every major area of sustainability policy, including climate change, water, energy, and environmental protection. Students within the program have access to a range of externships, research opportunities, moot court experiences, and mentorships available in few other law schools across the globe.
ASU Law students with a particular interest in environmental sustainability law and policy can access countless benefits through ASU’s Law & Sustainability Program, which prepares students to secure legal jobs in sustainability-related fields and to become influential leaders in those positions. All students at ASU Law have access to the Program’s diverse array of environmental and sustainability-related course offerings including water, energy, natural resources, utilities, land use, and international environmental law. All students can also take advantage of numerous opportunities to further specialize in and to gain sustainability-related experience outside the classroom.
Juris Doctor (JD)
Master of Laws (LLM)
Master of Legal Studies (MLS)
ASU’s Law and Sustainability Program provides exceptional opportunities for students to engage with the environmental sustainability community, build their resumes, and gain practical experience to prepare them to practice in sustainability-related fields. Each year, students have opportunities to network one-on-one with attorneys through the Mentorship Initiative in Sustainability Law (MISL), publish research articles as Sustainability Law Research Fellows, and gain practical experience through the Program’s extensive externship network.
The Program’s Mentorship Initiative in Sustainability Law (MISL) is an attorney-student mentorship program for JD candidate students interested in environmental sustainability-related legal careers. MISL pairs students with practicing environmental, water, energy, and land use law attorneys for valuable mentoring experiences across the entire academic year. Students often visit their mentors’ offices, join their mentors for lunches or social events, and may even observe their mentor in a public hearing or proceeding.
Serving as a MISL attorney mentor requires only a modest time commitment and is a rewarding and meaningful way to help nurture the next generation of environmental sustainability-oriented lawyers. It provides a fulfilling and rewarding experience for attorneys who actively participate. Attorneys interested in serving as mentors should contact Troy Rule at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on the application process.
Sustainability Law Student Research Fellowships give students opportunities to research and write professional, publication-quality articles on current legal and policy topics related to environmental sustainability. Research Fellows research and write a full-length law review articles, receiving and responding to at least 10 iterations of substantive feedback over eight months. Fellows also workshop each other’s research projects and deliver formal presentations of their articles to the law school community.
Since its inception, all 15 student-authored papers produced through the Research Fellows Program have received offers for publication in non-ASU legal academic journals.
Because ASU Law is situated in downtown Phoenix and in close proximity to dozens of law firms, government offices, and other legal employers in sustainability-related fields, numerous ASU law students involved in the Law & Sustainability Program secure legal externships each year. Below is a listing of some of the externships ASU law students have done in recent years that have a connection to environmental sustainability:
ASU’s Program on Law and Sustainability’s annual Sustainability Conference of American Legal Educators is a national event hosted each spring for legal academics researching in environmental sustainability-related areas. Roughly 50 professors from law schools throughout North America convene to present their most current research. At the conference, the Program also recognizes and hears a presentation from the winner of the Morrison Prize Contest—an annual contest that awards a $10,000 cash prize to the author(s) of the most influential sustainability-related law review article published in the previous year.
The generous contributions of Program partners and donors provide crucial funding for the conference, the prize contest, and the Program’s numerous other initiatives. Beginning in 2020, the conference will be titled the “SRP Sustainability Conference of American Legal Educators” in recognition of a major funding commitment from Salt River Project. The Morrison Prize Contest is similarly named in honor of Richard Morrison, a prominent Phoenix-area agricultural lawyer who has provided financial support for the Law and Sustainability Program for more than five years.
The Law and Sustainability Program wishes to express its deepest gratitude to the following entities and individuals, whose financial support is instrumental in the Program’s continued success.
Salt River Project
Gammage & Burnham
Rose Law Group
Salmon Lewis & Welden
Founded in 2016, the Council for Law and Sustainability Studies (CLASS) is a selective board of Phoenix-area attorneys who practice in environmental sustainability-related fields of law. CLASS members provide guidance, connections, and assistance to the Program. ASU expresses deep appreciation to following attorneys who currently serve on this distinguished council:
3L - Class of 2020
ASU’s Law & Sustainability Program has provided me with many rewarding educational experiences during my last 2 years at ASU Law. Last year I participated in the Sustainability Research Seminar which allowed me to research a topic I am passionate about and gain valuable writing experience. Professor Rule offered guidance and valuable feedback throughout the entire process, which ultimately led to a publication offer from the Idaho Law Review.
3L - Class of 2020
"Professor Rule's passion and enthusiasm about sustainability law is contagious, which made the interesting topic that much more fun to study! Beyond pure enjoyment, the program has forced me to be a better writer and given me tools that I use every day in practice. It is impossible to fully articulate the positive effects this program has had on my legal career!"
3L - Class of 2020
"From the classmates to the professors, there is an excitement for learning found nowhere else. Passion for education is evident through diverse course offerings. Opportunities, due to faculty connections, to learn outside of the class room abound."
The Program on Law and Sustainability’s outstanding collection of tenured research faculty sets it apart as one of the strongest sustainability-focused environmental law programs in the country. Program faculty members also collaborate on research and other activities with ASU’s Center for Law and Global Affairs, Center for Law, Science and Innovation, Indian Legal Program, Global Institute of Sustainability, and Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.