Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

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The Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is training the next generation of leaders to solve environmental problems and providing access to justice in underserved communities.

In this clinic, students from Duke Law, Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, and other graduate schools develop a broad array of tools and insights from their various disciplines — law, policy, and science — while working together to handle cases using interdisciplinary approaches. 

Students develop skills in litigation, mediation, negotiation, and conflict resolution, and they often are able to contribute their own entrepreneurial solutions to environmental dilemmas. They use a collaborative approach to work on a wide variety of matters, encompassing water quality, air quality, natural resources conservation, sustainable development, public-trust resources, and environmental justice. 

Students participate in classroom seminars and site investigations, represent their clients at public hearings and agency proceedings, and are actively involved in litigation, transactional cases, and policy development. They have helped community organizations stop large polluters from damaging human health and environment. Student teams worked alongside these groups to prevent the construction of a Navy jet landing field which would have condemned an environmental justice community and to prevent the building of a huge coal-burning cement kiln next to river already heavily polluted by mercury. They have also helped develop successful policies that advance organic and sustainable agriculture and have been instrumental in shaping regulations that protect children in licensed North Carolina childcare centers from lead in drinking water.

The clinic is a joint venture of Duke Law and the Nicholas School of the Environment.


While lawyers play a key role in the environmental justice movement, it is the voices and stories of our clients and the communities we serve that really give the movement strength and push it forward.

Victoria Rose JD/MEM '21
Students walk across a covered waste lagoon

A recent Duke Bass Connections research project led by Environmental Law and Policy Clinic Director Ryke Longest and Lecturing Fellow Lee Miller focused on environmental justice in Eastern North Carolina. To kick it off, students from the Law School, Nicholas School for the Environment, and elsewhere around Duke toured hog farms and waste lagoons and spoke with community members who told stories of polluted air, undrinkable water, and poisoned community relationships. 


Faculty & Staff

Course Description
Students posing with sign
Call to Action Content

Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, 443

The Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is an interdisciplinary clinic that represents non-profit community-based and environmental organizations throughout the region to address a wide variety of environmental concerns in a variety of different venues. Students work in interdisciplinary teams and engage directly with clients to develop legal and advocacy strategies, conduct site-based assessments, develop legislative and regulatory proposals, and participate in community outreach and education efforts. Students also may engage in litigation, regulatory, and policy proceedings as case needs dictate. 

Get Help

We serve nonprofit organizations representing low-wealth communities throughout the United States and Africa, with a focus on clients serving the southeastern U.S. We do not represent individuals. If your community is facing an environmental problem and needs legal representation, we may be able to help. Please fill out the Contact Us form to request an intake questionnaire and find out whether your case might be a good fit with the services we provide. Organizations seeking new representation must return a completed intake questionnaire by April 1 for fall semester projects and by November 1 for spring semester projects.

Support the Clinic

Support the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic by making an online gift or pledge to further the mission of the clinic.