Michele Okoh is a senior lecturing fellow in the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. Her work focuses primarily on environmental justice, administrative law, and public health law. In the clinic, Okoh supervises students on environmental law cases and teaches sessions on environmental justice and administrative law. She also teaches a readings course on environmental justice that is open to all law students.
Her research interests lie at the intersection of environmental justice and public health. She draws upon theories across disciplines in addressing legal issues and views environmental justice through a health equity lens. Her health equity approach orients her scholarship around demonstrating that environmental justice is in fact achievable. Her work emphasizes the need for a focus on achieving equity.
In approaching environmental justice, she follows Kuehn’s taxonomy and views environmental justice as consisting of four dimensions: distributive justice (whether the outcome results in the equitable distribution of burdens and benefits among groups in society); procedural justice (whether there were any barriers to access or restrictions on available information that interfered with a fair and equitable decision-making process); corrective justice (whether the remedy is appropriate for the harm caused); and social justice (whether the most vulnerable members of society have resources and power to live a life of dignity).
She strongly believes that good theory makes good practice and good practice makes good theory. She aims for her work to be community driven and to fill the needs of impacted communities. For her, scholarship is part of advocacy, and she remains committed to service. She currently serves as the section councilor for the Environmental Section of the American Public Health Association and is on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Section Council for the North Carolina Bar Association.
Prior to joining the clinic in 2019, Okoh’s extensive professional legal experience included representing the state of North Carolina as both a prosecutor and attorney with the N.C. Department of Justice. As managing attorney in her own law firm, Okoh Law Firm, she practiced disability law as well as served as a defense attorney, defending defendants against criminal prosecution in state and federal courts. She has also served as a fellow with the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship
Okoh has expertise in environmental law, criminal law, disability law, and health care law. In furtherance of her interests, she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at George Washington University.
She also has passion for theatre and has acted in and directed several plays, including the southwest regional premier of Eclipsed for the Women’s Theatre Festival. She is also a fan of hiking and all things science fiction.