Environmental Law Clinic Wins ABA Award

September 25, 2018

‌Confronted with untold environmental issues from unabated pollution pouring into our air, land, and water to the devastating social, economic, and ecological costs of the severe flooding of our lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of law teaches students how to analyze and strike at these complex issues and is being recognized by the American Bar Association for doing so.

The Environmental Law Clinic has been named the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources 2018 Law Student Program of the Year Award winner.  The award is “given in recognition of the best student-organized educational program or public service project of the year focusing on issues in the field of environmental, energy, or natural resources law.”

The Environmental Law Clinic is well known across Maryland, and even the world.

In addition to local clients such as Blue Water Baltimore, the Maryland Environmental Health Network, and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, the Clinic has advised the government of Kazakhstan on climate change adaptation laws and is currently working with Maryland Carey Law Lecturer in Law Jingjing Zhang on a project to hold multinational companies accountable for harm caused by their activities in developing countries.

This past year, the Environmental Law Clinic expanded their scope by adding clients and contacts in the areas of air pollution and climate change.

Seema Kakade's HeadshotDirector of the Environmental Law Clinic, Seema Kakade, will accept the award at the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resource’s 26th Fall Conference in San Diego. Kakade joined Maryland Carey Law in 2017 after nine years with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Her leadership of the Environmental Law Clinic has been a large component of its recent success.

‌‌Kakade credits the success and popularity of the Environmental Law Clinic and program on two factors: student engagement and a focus on interdisciplinary work.

The focus on students is paramount across the entire faculty of the Environmental Law program. Kakade explains, “The faculty that teach in the program work together regularly to help students shape their course load, internships, clinic time, and general law school experience.” She continues, “We know our students, actively counsel them on job opportunities, and provide incredible opportunities to work on environmental projects and present at conferences around the world.”

According to Kakade, environmental law is, in practice, interdisciplinary.  “While I was in practice, I worked with numerous interns and young attorneys and one of the most common things I witnessed was a lack of understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental law. As a teacher now, I want my students to see that environmental law is not one thing, but is instead shaped by numerous other areas such as science, economics, and public health.”

Going further, she stresses that many different areas of law come together under the banner of environmental law.  Kakade stresses, “I also want my students to understand the connections between environmental law and the multitude of other legal practice areas including administrative law, corporate law, alternative dispute resolution, and many others.”

Director of the Environmental Law program, Robert Percival, has seen the impact Seema has made at Maryland Carey Law. “Seema is an unusually gifted teacher who has been a true inspiration to her students.  We are so grateful to have her here and we thank the ABA for recognizing us."

Additional information about the Environmental Law program at Maryland Carey Law can be found here.