Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
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.
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.