The Environmental Law Clinic

Established in 1987, the Environmental Law Clinic at Maryland Carey Law provides legal support, advice, and representation to a variety of non-profit organizations and community groups on environmental matters.  The Clinic is one-year long, 4 credits each semester.  In the Clinic, student attorneys work on cases and projects that teach how to think about environmental problems and critically analyze potential solutions. The thought process and skills student attorneys learn in the ELC are transferable to a wide variety of legal practice areas connected to environmental law, including, administrative law, litigation and civil procedure, and legislative policy and process.  Student attorneys obtain direct experience working with clients, outside scientific experts, and partner public interest lawyers while taking the clinic.  Past matters and projects in the Clinic have allowed student attorneys the opportunity to draft and argue briefs in administrative and judicial forums, prepare regulatory submissions, draft comments on proposed permits, conduct complex legal research and analysis, and provide legal counseling to clients on a host of complex environmental issues. The Clinic is under the direction of Associate Professor, Seema Kakade

Academic Year 2019-2020 Highlights

  • The Clinic wrote briefs and argued a long-standing zoning case involving a coal ash landfill in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. In particular, one Clinic student had the rare opportunity to argue in front of a 3 judge panel in January, 2020.   Although the decision, which came out in spring 2020, was unfavorable, the Clinic is continuing to support the litigation up to Maryland’s highest court. 

  • The Clinic provided several hours of legal counseling and trainings to community groups on participation in the environmental review process pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. 

  • The Clinic drafted policy recommendations for the Farm Alliance of Baltimore on changes to city and state legislation involving water usage, fees, and zoning,. One Clinic student presented on urban agriculture at Maryland’s annual Agriculture Education Law Initiative conference.

  • The Clinic worked on large permit compliance sweeps for two areas within Maryland, helping clients and partners understand which facilities are out of compliance with existing environmental regulations.

  • The Clinic completed a white paper for the Mid-Atlantic States on legal options for handling tampering of vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act and other relevant state laws.
  • The Clinic provided complex legal research support for the Center for Progressive Reform on federal rulemaking, resulting in a white paper.

Academic Year 2018-2019 Highlights:

  • The Clinic continued its representation of the Patuxent Riverkeeper in a zoning proceeding regarding a special exception allowing a polluting coal ash landfill to exist in an area zoned for low-impact residential use. The case proceeded to judicial review in Circuit Court and one of our clinic students argued the case, receiving praise from both the Judge and opposing counsel.
  • The Clinic submitted additional comments in multiple letters to the Maryland Department of Environment on behalf of several groups regarding the implementation of a 2013 settlement involving the Clean Water Act. The letters involved extensive understanding of technical information and coordination amongst multiple clients.

  • The Clinic provided legal counseling to several community groups involving litigation risk analysis, agency rule development, and other advocacy tools regarding environmental impacts from proposed projects and facilities in specific areas across Maryland. Clinic students were able to attend community meetings to work with impacted or potentially impacted individuals.

  • The Clinic provided legal support to the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MDEHN) in legislative efforts. Two clinic students testified in front of the Maryland General assembly.
  • Clinic students joined the environmental law program’s TEA project, analyzing ways in which information collection on harm in developing countries can help in advocacy with governments and corporations. Two clinic students implemented their analysis on a summer 2019 trip to Guinea, West Africa.

  • Clinic students provided complex legal research and analysis for environmental advocacy groups on citizen science, potential arguments for comment in federal agency rulemaking, and legal preemption. The analysis resulted in legal memorandum that will be useful for clients in ongoing advocacy efforts.

  • Clinic students worked with the law school’s Small Business and Community Equity Development Clinic, to produce a toolkit for the NAACP’s environmental and climate justice program, on financial tools in climate change adaptation. One clinic student presented the toolkit at a large forum held at the law school for the NAACP.

*Please note all client names above are used with client consent or are available in public documents

2021 National Environmental Law Clinic Directory