PUBLISHED:July 21, 2009

Rhead Enion '10

Rhead Enion came to Duke Law with a master’s degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and a strong interest in marine and coastal issues. He’s been able to bolster his background with a wealth of experience in the classroom, in the field, and in the real-world legal forum provided by Duke’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic.

At Yale, Enion focused on coastal science and policy, taking classes on coastal marshes, hydrology, river restoration, and oceanography.

“My masters thesis was on detection of water quality in Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound using satellite imagery,” he says. “And I worked as a graduate fellow with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Island Sound Study, a science and technical advisory committee focused on environmental restoration of the Sound.”

Enion, a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, compared satellite imagery with on-the-ground sampling in the Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound, looking at transparency and light reflection. “In the Bay, that murkiness is a good proxy for how much sediment is in the water,” he explains.

Enion enjoys hard science, but he also has policy experience, thanks to a post-undergraduate internship in the office of Senator Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

Enion says he then chose to attend Duke Law because he could marry environmental science, law, and policy through Duke’s interdisciplinary opportunities.

“I knew I could take advantage of environmental classes and interact with students at the Nicholas School,” he says.

“And my Ocean and Coastal Law class [at the Nicholas School] and my work with the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic are two examples of that.”

The clinic offered Enion a chance to work on two issues. “We represented the Yadkin Riverkeeper, voicing their concerns over a license renewal of a hydroelectric dam project on the Yadkin, and the other was research into stormwater runoff and mitigation efforts along the North Carolina coast.”

Enion’s clinical work involved assessing complex water-quality issues and applying them to state and federal rules regarding the environment and the licensing of hydroelectric dam operators.

“Rhead is a highly intelligent law student who has great facility with complex areas of the law,” says clinic director Ryke Longest. “He stayed on top of a very complex set of legal issues involving the interplay of our state constitution, state rules and regulations, and the Clean Water Act. There was fairly advanced legal analysis involved in helping prepare the comments that we submitted on behalf of Yadkin Riverkeeper, and he showed a fine grasp of legal argument, research analysis, and the application of logic to a factually complex issue.”

Enion has added to the practical environmental law experience he received during his clinical tenure with a summer internship with Oceana, the largest ocean conservation advocacy group worldwide. He worked in the organization’s Washington, D.C. office, alongside a senior litigator.

“One of the nice things about working for a nonprofit like Oceana is how much responsibility they give even interns,” Enion says. “In our bycatch litigation, I drafted an objections brief appealing the ruling of a magistrate judge. I also worked on the first draft of our summary judg¬ment motion in that case.”

Enion spent most of his internship working on two cases.

“We were working on a lawsuit to force the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to implement better protections of sea turtles in the North Pacific and North Atlantic and we’re involved in an ongoing lawsuit to require the Fisheries Service to implement a scientifically sound methodology to measure bycatch in the New England fisheries,” he explains.

Enion is pursuing federal clerkships and fellowships with the U.S. Department of Justice as a prelude to continued work on environmental issues after his law school graduation.

“The trick is that, in the public interest field, it’s best to have a lot of experience, both work experience and educational experience,” he says. “I think I’ve done well in both areas here at Duke.”