Sustainability classes inspire ASU Law student to chart a new course

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2018 commencement. Read about more graduates

From a young age, Edgard Francis Espiritu knew he wanted to be a lawyer.

“It’s always been kind of engrained in my head, ever since I was a kid,” said Espiritu, who grew up in the Bay Area, in Fremont, California.

He specifically remembers his grandmother, who noticed he had a knack for arguing, telling him at age 9 that he should grow up to be a lawyer. His mother and other members of his family work in the legal field, so it was a natural career choice.

An English major at the University of California, Davis, Espiritu was seeking a law school outside of his home state, but not too far away. Arizona State University's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law was the perfect fit, so he enrolled, planning to become a criminal prosecutor. But in the midst of his studies, there came a change in the script.

“Funny enough, when I was in my second year, I signed up for water law just because it fit in my schedule,” he said. “And Professor (Rhett) Larson, who taught the course, sparked an interest in me wanting to look into more sustainability courses. So from there, I ended up taking environmental law, and I’m currently taking energy law with Professor (Troy) Rule. And because of that, I was able to get exposed to a sustainability mentorship.”

Espiritu now wants to work in the environmental field, with designs on a job with a federal regulatory agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And he is thankful for the broad and varied legal education he received.

“ASU exposed me to so many different aspects of the law and different fields,” he said. “I came into law school thinking I was going to pursue criminal prosecution, and now I’m walking out with a very high interest in environmental and sustainability law. ASU definitely helped expand my horizons in terms of what kind of law I want to practice.”

During his time at ASU Law, he served as an associate articles editor for the Law Journal for Social Justice and founded, along with other Filipino students, the Filipino American Law Student Association.

“We did get a few raised eyebrows, given that there is already an established Asian law student organization,” he said. “However, FALSA was formed with the intent to stand as a supplement to APALSA (Asian Pacific American Law Student Association), because we felt that the legal issues within the Filipino communities, both in the United States and abroad, were numerous enough that starting the organization to raise awareness of the issues made sense.”

Espiritu said ASU Law was supportive throughout his time in law school, noting the numerous externship opportunities the career services office helped him secure.

“No matter where you go to law school, it’s going to be a pretty difficult journey,” he said. “But ASU Law has so much to offer. Rigorous academics, and so many different opportunities in terms of the types of law you can practice, and the different types of classes you can take. And the classes are taught by faculty who are so well-renowned in their fields. In fact, the professors are what really makes the experience worth it.”