Law and Sustainability

Law and Sustainability

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Nationally ranked #21 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.

Benefits

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)

Student opportunities and experiences

  • ASU Law’s Sustainability Law Research Seminar allows students to work closely with faculty on legal scholarship, and has led many students to the rare accomplishment of publishing articles in environmental law journals.
  • ASU Law students qualify for free admission to ASU Law’s annual Sustainability Conference of American Legal Educators—the largest annual gathering of American law professors researching in areas related to environmental sustainability. Panels and presentations at the conference address a wide range of contemporary topics related to climate change policy, agricultural and food regulation, disaster law, and sustainable land use.
  • ASU’s Environmental Law Society student chapter brings together students interested in the relationship between law, the legal profession, and environmental and sustainability issues by organizing lectures, service projects, field trips, group hikes, and other events.
  • Externship placements through ASU Law give selected students real-world experience with environmental issues in practice through groups such as the Attorney General’s Environmental Enforcement Section, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and the Arizona State Land Department.
  • Partnerships with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability offer law students unique access to diverse educational resources, interdisciplinary research, and networking opportunities beyond the law school.

Career and networking opportunities

ASU’s Program on Law and Sustainability is committed to helping students develop the skills and connections necessary to secure permanent positions in sustainability-related legal fields. The Program’s Mentorship Initiative for Sustainability Law (MISL) links experienced Arizona attorneys with ASU law students for one-on-one mentoring to aid students in the critical transition from law student to legal practitioner. Each Fall, ASU organizes a MISL kick-off luncheon where local practitioners who work in the fields of environmental, water, energy, and land use law are paired with ASU Law student mentees interested in those areas. Attorney mentors and student mentees then meet in person throughout the year to discuss career-related issues and engage in other mentoring activities. These mentorship experiences assist students in developing networking skills, provide them additional advisors and role models, and expand their professional connections. Then, each Spring, ASU hosts mentor appreciation night where students are able to recognize outstanding attorney mentors and have additional networking opportunities with other lawyers practicing in sustainability-related areas.

Sample of coursework offered

  • Administrative Law
  • Agriculture Law
  • Energy Law and Policy
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Justice
  • Federal Economic Regulation of Energy
  • Indian Energy Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • Land Use Planning
  • Land Use Proceedings
  • Natural Resources Law
  • Sustainability Law Research Seminar
  • Utilities, Sustainability and the Law
  • Water Law

Student Testimonials

Rachel Richman

Rachel Richman

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.

Daniel B. Stratman

Daniel B. Stratman

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!"

Christina Jovanovic

Christina Jovanovic

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."

Expertise

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.