Professor Percival's Environmental Casebook First to Reach Ninth Edition

Thirty-three years ago, after finishing his first year teaching environmental law, Professor Robert Percival realized that the one dominant casebook in the field did not capture the richness of practice in the rapidly developing field. Percival had joined the Maryland Carey Law faculty after six years as an attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund where he fought efforts by the Reagan administration to roll back environmental protections. The year before he joined the faculty to launch its new Environmental Law Program, Percival had helped Professor Michael Millemann fulfill a promise to students to teach the course.

Percival soon discovered that three other friends teaching environmental law at other law schools had the same impression that it was essential to have a new casebook to use to teach the course. Chris Schroeder at Duke, Alan Miller at Widener, and Jim Leape at Oregon agreed to join him in writing a new environmental law casebook. They began their joint venture in 1988, producing what then were called “mimeographed materials” that they shared with other environmental professors. By the time the first edition of their casebook was published in 1992, its materials already were being used at twenty law schools, making it an instant bestseller.

The late Maryland Carey Law Professor Oscar Gray is widely credited with being the first professor to publish an environmental law casebook. Gray’s Cases and Materials on Environmental Law, published by the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) in 1970, was greeted with considerable excitement. One snarky reviewer did opine that “today’s environmental concerns may be largely a fad – what did ever happen to poverty law?” Gray proved them wrong and he played a crucial role in the success of Percival’s casebook by introducing him and his coauthors to the publisher of his torts casebook, Little Brown, which agreed to publish Percival, Schroeder, Miller & Leape’s Environmental regulation: Law, Science and Policy. A professor researching the history of climate change in legal education has observed that it was the first casebook to devote substantial attention to climate change beginning with its very first edition.

Percival’s co-authors have long ago left teaching – Schroeder is now the head of the Biden Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; Leape left academia to serve as the Director General of the World Wildlife Fund; Miller has retired from his position as Climate Change Coordinator for the International Finance Corporation’s Global Environmental Facility. Thus, Percival has handled all the revisions himself since publication of the sixth edition in 2011. Fortnately, the development of the internet and computer technology, both in their infancy when the first edition appeared, has made it much easier to keep abreast of developments in what has become a most dynamic and important field. On July 30, 2021, when Wolters Kluwer published the newest edition of Percival’s casebook, it became the first in the environmental law field to produce a ninth edition.

About Maryland Carey Law

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law was established in 1816 and began regular instruction in 1824. It is the third-oldest law school in the nation, but its innovative programs make it one of the liveliest and most dynamic today. Maryland Carey Law stands among five other professional schools on the Founding Campus of the University of Maryland. It has taken advantage of this location to become an integral part of the Baltimore-Washington legal and business community.