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.  Environmental law is a complex, interdisciplinary area of legal practice that examines the way humans interact with the natural world.  It is a combination of law, policy, and science and often involves competing human and societal interests. In the Clinic Environmental Law ELC (ELC), 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, for example, administrative law, litigation and civil procedure, negotiations and alternative dispute resolution, international law, and legislative policy and process.  Student attorneys obtain direct experience working with clients, outside scientific experts, and partner public interest lawyers while taking the year-long 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 typically works on matters and projects at local, state, national, and international levels. The Clinic also often collaborates with faculty across the law school, departments within the University of Maryland system in areas such as public health and science, and environmental law clinics at other law schools.  The Clinic is under the direction of Assistant Professor, Seema Kakade


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 will implement 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.

  • Clinic students presented on zoning and climate change finance as legal advocacy tools at the University of Maryland’s Environmental Justice Symposium, held in conjunction with the School of Public Health.

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