Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

The clinic represents nonprofit organizations in a range of environmental law and policy issues.


Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

An Interdisciplinary Clinic at Duke

A joint project of Duke Law School and the Nicholas School of the Environment, the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic operates as a live client clinic out of offices in the Duke Law School building in Durham, N.C. Students work under direct supervision of Clinic Director Ryke Longest and Supervising Attorney Michelle Nowlin. Longest worked for fourteen years as an environmental enforcement attorney for the North Carolina Department of Justice prior to coming to Duke. Nowlin is a joint-degree graduate from Duke Law School and the Nicholas School, and worked for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Chapel Hill for 13 years prior to returning to Duke.

Environmental Law and Policy Clinic Director Ryke Longest discusses the interdisciplinary nature of the clinic, and the involvement of clinic students in a variety of cases across the state.

Students participating in the clinic receive instruction in client counseling, communications, and interviewing during a seminar, an intensive weekend training session, and through individual weekly meetings with their supervising attorney. The clinic aims to teach them practical skills needed in order to provide professional level services to real clients. In the clinic, students learn how to develop a representation plan, negotiate settlement agreements, work with stakeholders, develop a policy agenda, develop presentations, manage electronic case files, track their time, plan interviews, and organize facts to meet the client’s objectives. Students also receive instruction on developing both strategies and tactics to achieve the objectives of their clients, and receive real case training on ethical rules of practice, which they are required to observe.

In accordance with rules of the North Carolina Bar, the clinic represents non-profit entities that lack sufficient financial resources to pay for the private professional services offered by the clinic. Current clients include the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, PenderWatch & Conservancy, Little Tennessee Watershed Alliance, Clean Water for North Carolina, Upper Neuse RiverKeeper, Yadkin RiverKeeper, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Alliance. The clinic provides a full range of professional services to these clients, including legal and factual research, litigation, rulemaking and legislative drafting, and policy development.

On behalf of their clients, the clinic is engaged in a varied list of environmental law and policy matters, including watershed and wetlands protection, water quality, land conservation, energy conservation, pesticide exposure, air pollution, endangered species protection, climate change and toxic chemical contamination. Most of the matters in which the clinic is engaged are regional in nature, although a number of the cases and projects have national implications. This wide coverage reflects the diverse and sophisticated nature of the region’s environmental organizations and the complexity of issues facing the region.


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Contact Us

Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Duke Law School
Box 90360
Durham, North Carolina 27708-0360
Phone: (919) 613-7169
Fax: (919) 613-7262

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