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Environmental & Energy Law Concentration

The University of Minnesota Law School offers J.D. and LL.M. students a concentration in environmental and energy law to help them prepare to practice in a wide range of areas in these fields. Nationally and internationally renowned faculty teach courses in environmental law, energy law, natural resources law, environmental justice, renewable energy law, water law, climate change, land use, and international environmental law, among others. Top environmental and energy lawyers serving as adjunct professors provide valuable mentoring and networking opportunities for students. Through innovative capstone courses, clinics, and seminars, students engage in simulated exercises in the fields of environmental and energy law and work with members of the community on cutting-edge policy development. Students can further immerse themselves in the fields through seminars, lectures, externship programs, mentorship programs, student organizations, and interdisciplinary opportunities throughout the University of Minnesota, including the Institute on the Environment and the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology.

Further questions should be referred to the faculty chair for the concentration in environmental and energy law:

Brad Karkkainen

Program Highlights

  • Wide variety of core and specialized courses, seminars, and capstone courses on topics such as brownfields development, climate change, land use, and renewable energy
  • Opportunities to do one-to-one independent research and writing projects with environmental and energy law faculty members
  • Mentorship opportunities with environmental and energy law lawyers, hydrogeologists, geologists, and urban planners
  • Opportunities to work on cutting-edge environmental and energy law policy issues with nonprofit organizations and governmental entities
  • Opportunities for networking and career advancement with alumni worldwide

Study Opportunities

Required concentration courses are environmental law; administrative law; energy law (class of 2016 and thereafter); a capstone course or clinic in environmental or energy law; and two additional courses in the fields, including such areas as natural resources law, renewable energy law, environmental justice, land use, or water law.

Students also take advantage of the extensive environmental and energy offerings available throughout the University at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the ecology, geography, conservation biology, and applied economics departments. J.D. students can earn a joint degree in another relevant discipline through the Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology.

Practical Opportunities

Students may participate in the Law School's Environmental Law Moot Court team and write law review articles on environmental and energy law-related topics for a wide variety of student and peer-review journals, including the Minnesota Law Review; Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, & Technology; Minnesota Journal of International Law; and Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice.

Employment Opportunities

The vibrant Twin Cities environmental and energy law communities offer students opportunities for part-time work during the school year and full-time summer employment with governmental agencies, law firms, legal departments at corporations and utilities, and nonprofit environmental groups. Prospective employers from around the country come to the Law School to interview students for summer and permanent positions. The Law School provides regular notice of employment opportunities, fellowships, and other scholarly opportunities.

Student-Led Opportunities

The Environmental and Energy Law Society (EELS) offers programming designed to supplement the Law School's curriculum by applying lessons learned in the classroom to a variety of practice areas in environmental and energy law. EELS invites practicing lawyers to speak to students and provides opportunities for interaction and service projects in the community.

Other Opportunities

The University of Minnesota has hundreds of leading environmental and energy faculty, and numerous centers and institutes that support interdisciplinary study and research. The Joint Degree Program in Law, Science & Technology provides unique opportunities for students to participate in interdisciplinary programming, and receive funding to support interdisciplinary research interests.

The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment serves as a locus for environmental research and policy initiatives, and provides many opportunities for students.

Core Environmental and Energy Law Faculty

Brad Karkkainen

Alexandra B. Klass

Myron Orfield

Hari M. Osofsky