Law and Sustainability

Law and Sustainability

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Nationally ranked #20 in environmental law

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.

Degrees and certificates

  • JD students can earn the Law and Sustainability Certificate, which demonstrates competency and expertise in sustainability-related legal areas to potential employers.
  • Non-JD students can pursue a customized LLM with an emphasis in Law and Sustainability or supplement existing training through an MLS in Sustainability, with an option to concurrently earn a Master’s degree in Sustainability Solutions in partnership with ASU’s School of Sustainability.

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.

  • Advanced Environmental Law Topics
  • Agricultural Law
  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Environmental Law
  • Federal Indian Law II
  • Indian Energy Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • Land Use Planning
  • Land Use Proceedings
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Sustainability Law Research Seminar
  • Sustainability: International Law & Governance
  • Utilities Law
  • Water Law
  • Wilderness Law and Policy

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.

Thank you to all of our attorney mentors!

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 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.

2019 Fellows and Published Papers

  • Rachel Richman & Cadmus Wang, Too Open for Business: Strengthening Long-Term Protections for Federal Public Lands, IDAHO LAW REVIEW (forthcoming, 2020)
  • Daniel Stratman & Zalman Stern-Sapad, The Waivering Renewable Fuel Standard and How to Fix It, VERMONT JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (forthcoming, 2020)
  • Jennifer Carstens & Dakota Freeze, Driving Change: A Route to More Sensible Vehicle Emissions, Regulation, VERMONT JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (forthcoming, 2020)
  • Isaac Hall & Anthony Nordman, Up in Flames: Containing Wildfire Liability for Utilities in the West, TULANE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW (forthcoming, 2020)
  • Elizabeth Beatty & Abbey Hawthorne, Empowered: Bringing Energy Efficiency into Low-Income Homes, OIL AND GAS, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENERGY JOURNAL (Oklahoma) (forthcoming, 2020)

2017 Fellows and Published Papers

  • Casey Ball & Courtney Moran, Structuring Better Caps for Sustainability Incentive Programs, IDAHO LAW REVIEW (2018)
  • Ben Bryce & Robert Skousen, Bloomin’ Disaster: Externalities, Commons Tragedies, and the Algal Bloom Problem, UNIVERSITY OF DENVER WATER LAW REVIEW (2018)
  • Eden Cohen and Ryan Hogan, Made in the Shade: Promoting Solar Over Water Projects, IDAHO LAW REVIEW (2018)
  • Alexandra Evans & Robin Nagele, A Lot to Digest: Advancing Food Waste Policy in the United States, NATURAL RESOURCES JOURNAL (2018)
  • Ashley Hardy & Dontan Hart, Policy Meltdown: How Climate Change is Driving Excessive Nuclear Energy Investment, BUFFALO ENVIRONMENTAL LAW JOURNAL (2018)

2016 Fellows and Published Papers

  • Casey Ball & Courtney Moran, Penny Lane, Literally: Funding Roads One Vehicle Mile at a Time, 5 WILLAMETTE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW 1 (2016)
  • Lindsay Breslau, Mike Croweak, & Alan Witt, Batteries Included, Incentivizing Battery Storage, 17 AMERICAN UNIVERSITY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICY BRIEF
  • Casey Clowes, Tessa Hustead, & Daniel Kolomitz, Thirsty for a Solution: Promoting More Efficient Water Use in the West, 20 University of Denver Water Law Review 65 (2016)
  • Daniel Schwiebert & Shane Urban, Trickle-Down Solar: Which Strategies for Expanding Access to Solar Energy Make the Most Cents?, 6 ARIZONA PRACT. LEG. J. 91 (2016)
  • Racheal White Hawk, Community-Scale Solar: Watt’s In It for Indian Country?, 40 ENVIRONS ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY JOURNAL 1 (UC Davis) (2016)

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 and 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:

  • Arizona Attorney General’s Office - Environmental Enforcement Section
  • Arizona Attorney General’s Office - Natural Resources Section
  • Arizona Corporation Commission
  • Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Arizona State Legislature
  • City of Mesa
  • City of Scottsdale
  • Climate Institute
  • Gammage & Burnham PLC
  • Kyl Center for Water Policy
  • Office of Water Master
  • Rose Law Group PC
  • Salt River Project
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
Fifth Annual Sustainbility Conference of American Legal Educators

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.

Conference sponsors

Salt River Project
Richard Morrison

Sustaining sponsors

Jack Clifford
Freeport McMoRan

Supporting sponsors

Grady Gammage
Mark McGinnis
Sarah Porter

Table sponsors

Gammage & Burnham
Perkins Coie
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:

  • John A. Clifford (Merchant & Gould)
  • Monique Coady (City of Phoenix)
  • Michelle De Blasi (Fennemore Craig, PC)
  • Grady Gammage (Gammage & Burnham PLC)
  • Barbara Pashkowski (Gust Rosenfeld P.L.C.)
  • Sarah Porter (Morrison Institute for Public Policy)
  • Mark McGinnis (Salmon, Lewis & Weldon, PLC)
  • Todd Weaver (Freeport McMoRan)
  • Kenneth J. Lee (Salt River Project)

Morrison Prize Contest winners

Morrison Prize Winner 2021 Joshua Macey
Morrison Prize Winner 2020 Jim Rossi and Christopher Serkin
Morrison Prize Winner 2019
Morrison Prize Winner 2018
Morrison Prize Winner 2017
Morrison Prize Winner 2016

Student Testimonials

Cory Bernard

Cory Bernard

J.D. Candidate / Class of 2021

My time as a Sustainability Law Student Research Fellow was one of my most rewarding as a law student. The seminar exposed me to many critical legal issues, and helped me build relationships with peers who share my passion for the environment. The professors and practitioners associated with the program also share this passion, and their guidance helps any student participating in ASU’s many environmental law offerings to prepare for a future in the field.

Alexa Penalosa

Alexa Penalosa

J.D. Candidate / Class of 2022

ASU's Law and Sustainability Program has far surpassed my expectations - from the remarkable faculty, the engaged alumni, and my fellow classmates - everyone involved is passionate about learning and helping one another succeed. The Program offers students such an amazing list of classes to choose from, taught by legal scholars and experts who are actively writing, working, and blazing the trail in these evolving legal fields. The classes they teach not only prepare us to be well versed in the foundational aspects of the law, but the professors further prepare us to understand the evolving legal landscape in these fields. Even more importantly, the professors and classes challenge us to be the best lawyers we can be - pushing us to study new and evolving legal theories, strengthen our research and writing skills, and practice our legal advocacy abilities. This Program not only sets up students to be well prepared to enter the environmental law and sustainability field, but it prepares students to be the best, well-rounded professionals we can be.

Michelle Stinson

Michelle Stinson

J.D. Candidate / Class of 2021

Pursuing the Law and Sustainability Certificate during my time at ASU College of Law allowed me to go beyond simply learning the current landscape of environmental law. Our professors at ASU are leading experts in their fields, and they always encourage us to consider how we too can be leaders in bringing about necessary changes to meet our world's current environmental challenges. Whether it's tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, water shortages, or the transition to clean energy, I know my education has prepared me to contribute to building a more sustainable future.


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.

Troy Rule

Troy Rule
Faculty Director - Renewable Energy Law

Kenneth Abbott

Kenneth Abbott
International Environmental Law

Daniel Bodansky

Daniel Bodansky
International Environmental Law

Karen Bradshaw

Karen Bradshaw
Environmental and Natural Resources Law

Andrew Carter

Andrew Carter
Wilderness Law

Rhett Larson

Rhett Larson
Water Law

Robert Miller

Robert Miller
Resource Governance on Indian Trust Lands

Erin Scharff

Erin Scharff
Associate Professor of Law