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Law School Announces New Environmental and Energy Law Concentration

JULY 21, 2011—This fall, the University of Minnesota Law School will add environmental and energy law to its growing list of concentrations. Professor Alexandra B. Klass will serve as faculty chair of the new concentration, developed to help J.D. and LL.M. students prepare to practice in a wide range of areas in environmental and energy law.

"Addressing our environmental and energy needs will be one of the great challenges of the 21st century," Klass says. "Through this program, the Law School will train the lawyers, leaders, and problem-solvers we need to tackle those challenges."

Concentrations build on and complement the standard curriculum through interdisciplinary partnerships with other University programs. Students who complete a concentration receive a special notation on their transcripts after graduation. The Law School also offers concentrations in business law, health law and bioethics, human rights law, and labor and employment law.

Professors Brad Karkkainen and Hari Osofsky will join Klass in teaching the core environmental and energy law concentration courses. A dozen additional Law School faculty will teach required and recommended courses.

Students are offered multiple ways to experience and learn about environmental and energy law: through capstone courses including simulated exercises, visits from knowledgeable guest speakers, and working with members of the community on cutting-edge policy development; clinics; and vast interdisciplinary course offerings.

The Law School’s capstone courses include seminars on environmental justice and on renewable energy, as well as a course on brownfields redevelopment and litigation, which focuses on legal and practical issues surrounding underutilized property that has been subject to contamination.

Two clinics are dedicated to environmental sustainability issues. One focuses on energy policy and engages students in public policy projects that promote production of renewable energy and reduce the environmental impact of energy use. The other clinic centers on land use policy and introduces students to projects involving public policies that promote environmental sustainability related to land use, housing and building patterns, transportation, and management of urban growth.

Additional relevant opportunities include the Environmental Law Moot Court, which focuses on current issues in the field and trains students to write and present oral arguments. Four student-edited journals offer preparation in legal writing and research. The Environmental Law Society and other student organizations host events and speakers to raise awareness of a variety of environmental issues.

Interdisciplinary educational opportunities are available across the University, including through the Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences and at the Institute on the Environment. Courses are offered on international environmental law, natural resources law, land use planning, and much more. Students can further immerse themselves in environmental and energy law through public lectures, externship programs, and mentorship programs.

"The Law School has extraordinary strengths in environmental and energy sciences and policy," says Karkkainen. "Complementing those existing strengths, our new environmental and energy law concentration will cement the Law School's role as a leader in the fields, not only in Minnesota but nationally and globally."

Student financial support is offered through environmental and energy law internships and research assistantships on environmental, legal, and policy research at the Law School and other programs at the University.

For more information, go to http://www.law.umn.edu/current/concentrations_environmentalandenergylaw.html.