Alumni - Non-Profit

Picture of Environmental Law Alum Joanna Goger

Alumni Profile: Joanna Goger

Joanna Goger ('00) interned at the Environmental Crimes Unit at the United States Attorney's Office while enrolled in the law school's Environmental Law Clinic. This experience provided Joanna one of her most memorable law school experiences. Joanna believes the Clinic provides unique opportunities for students to take "an active role in the protection of our local resource, the Chesapeake Bay."

After graduation, Joanna worked as a law clerk to The Honorable Frederic N. Smalkin, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland and then as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environmental and Natural Resources Division. Joanna went on to work as an Adjunct Professor at the law school and Chief Policy Analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform. Joanna is now a lecturer at the University of Maryland College Park where she teaches Introduction to Environmental Law and The Science, Ethics, and Law of Water.

As a lecturer, Joanna continues to focus on environmental issues, and she views global climate change and fresh water availability as two of the most pressing issues facing environmental lawyers today. "Professor Steinzor's work at the interface of law and science and Professor Percival's work on the globalization of environmental law have already contributed to work on [global climate change] and other important environmental issues of the day, such as the regulation of mercury."

Joanna credits the law school for providing her the skills and opportunity to pursue her varied interests: "Maryland offers a tremendous breadth of courses in many subject areas, and its specialty programs, such as the Environmental Law Program, really allow for students to focus their studies. The proximity to Washington, D.C., Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay also provide for numerous job opportunities after graduation."

picture of environmental law alum khushi desai

Alumni Profile: Khushi Desai

Like many aspiring environmental lawyers, Khushi Desai (’07) dreamed of a career in public interest litigation, but wondered how she could break into this ultra-competitive field. She then developed a plan, stuck to it, and did not give up on her goal. Khushi’s hard work paid off this summer when Earthjustice, the nation’s premier public interest environmental litigators, hired her as an Associate Attorney. 

While in college at the University of Maryland College Park, Khushi developed an interest in environmental law and graduated with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy. As part of her undergraduate studies she interned at the Environmental Law Institute and even took Professor Percival’s Comparative Environmental Law class, which then was jointly taught with Professor Miranda Schreurs from the Department of Government and Politics. This helped convince Khushi to enroll in the University of Maryland School of Law to obtain her certificate of concentration in environmental law.

During her law school studies, Khushi took advantage of every opportunity to obtain clinical experience. For summer work she sought out a law firm that pursued toxic tort litigation – for an Erin Brockovich type of experience. Khushi’s research led her to Mason LLP in Washington, D.C., a small plaintiffs’ law firm that specializes in consumer protection and toxic tort litigation. She cold-called the firm to let them know of her interest, interviewed, and obtained a summer associate position. Khushi later accepted the firm’s offer of a full-time associate position after her law school graduation in 2007.

Khushi spent the next three years litigating a variety of matters at Mason LLP – from mortgage fraud to global warming, and unlawful tax assessments to the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “These wide-ranging experiences allowed me to learn from many exceptional attorneys with various backgrounds and interests, and develop a strong, diverse foundation in complex civil litigation that gave me the confidence to make my move into the non-profit sector,” explained Khushi.

Though much of Khushi’s work did not involve environmental law, she continued to remain involved with environmental issues. Khushi had a long-standing interest in the 1984 Bhopal disaster, a subject of her undergraduate honors thesis. Last December, she co-hosted a fundraiser to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the disaster and raise money for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and the Bhopal Medical Appeal. Shortly after the fundraiser, Khushi—with the help of her law firm-- was able to assist the team of litigators that represents Bhopal residents in an ongoing legal battle in U.S. federal court. 

Khushi’s hard work as a litigator and commitment to environmental advocacy gave her the opportunity to transition to environmental litigation at an early stage of her career. “I’m incredibly excited to have the opportunity to be part of Earthjustice’s associate attorney program. This is precisely the type of work I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember, so I am happy with the decisions I made both before and after law school,” said Khushi. As for advice to current law students, Khushi suggests “pursuing opportunities that help develop your skills as a lawyer while also staying connected to your own specific practice interests.”