BEST-10-law-schools-environmental-law

Best 10 Law Schools for Environmental Law

Environmental law courses cover topics including climate change, conservation, energy policy, public health, food systems, and sustainability. Though many law schools have classes in environmental law that students can elect to take, several American schools have standout programs. An expertise in environmental law can lead to careers at law firms, nonprofit organizations, corporations, or governmental agencies. Each year, U.S. News and World Report ranks the best 10 law schools with environmental law programs and, this year, 12 schools made the list because of ties.

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Here are the median LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs for recently enrolled students at the top law schools for environmental law.

 

8. (tie) University of Utah (Quinney)

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The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law’s Environmental Program is housed within the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment and offers a JD Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Recognizing the importance of conflict negotiation skills for future lawyers, Quinney also has an Environmental Dispute Resolution Program, training students in mediation within the field of environmental law. 

The Quinney College of Law Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 160 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.60.

8. (tie) University of Oregon

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The University of Oregon School of Law launched one of the nation’s first public interest environmental law programs more than 50 years ago with the establishment of its Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center. The University of Oregon is known for its institution-wide expertise in sustainability, and law students interested in environmental law can take classes across the university, with many pursuing a complementary degree. The school started the first environmental law clinic in the nation in 1986, working to preserve and restore natural resources in the West. 

The Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 157 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.38.

8. (tie) University of Colorado (Boulder)

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CU Boulder—located in the natural resource-rich Rocky Mountain West—has developed a national reputation for its work on water resources, climate change, and energy. In Colorado Law’s Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic, students advocate on behalf of local and national environmental groups, sometimes presenting oral arguments in federal court. Recent graduates have gone on to work at organizations including the Shell Oil Company, The Wilderness Society, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Colorado Law’s entering class in 2019 had a median LSAT score of 163 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.61.

8. (tie) New York University

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NYU Law students are introduced to environmental law topics in their foundational courses and can then take environmental law electives and seminars in their second and third years. The school’s Frank J Guarini Center on Environmental, Energy, and Land Use Law; its Institute for Public Integrity; and its State Energy & Environmental Impact Center regularly expose students to environmental law researchers and practitioners outside of the institution through symposia and hosted talks. NYU Law’s Environmental Law Journal is entirely student-run and, according to the school, is one of the “leading environmental law journals in the nation.”

NYU Law students in the Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 170 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.8.

8. (tie) Georgetown University

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Georgetown’s Environmental Law & Policy Program offers “one of the most extensive range of courses available worldwide” in the topic, according to the school. Students can take advantage of practical training opportunities available in the school’s home city of Washington, D.C. to supplement their coursework, which covers domestical and international environmental law. The Georgetown Climate Center also offers law students the opportunity to work on advancing climate and energy policy on a national level. Georgetown Law faculty have authored winning briefs in landmark environmental Supreme Court cases.

The Class of 2020 had a median LSAT score of 167 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.79.

6. (tie) Harvard University

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In addition to the extensive environmental law coursework at Harvard Law, the school offers students practical experience through the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, and the Environmental and Energy Law Program. Environmental law projects in the Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic vary in scope from the local to international levels. Housed within Harvard Law School, the Environmental & Energy Law Program identifies underperforming or outdated environmental laws and researches solutions, influencing policy in a number of outside sectors.

The Harvard Law JD Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 173 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.89.

6. (tie) Columbia University

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Columbia Law is proudly training future climate change and environmental policy lawyers. The university’s Earth Institue is an internationally-renowned physical and social science research hub, and Columbia Law’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law works in partnership with the Institute to develop legal techniques and materials to combat climate change. Law students work on real-world cases in the Environmental Law Clinic—recent cases involved fracking, wetlands preservation, and endangered species.

Students recently accepted to Columbia Law had a median LSAT score of 172 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.75.

4. (tie) Vermont Law School

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Vermont Law School has run the largest environmental law program in the country since 1978, offering the most degrees, certificates, and research opportunities. Its environmental law curriculum is broad, equipping future environmental lawyers with multidisciplinary knowledge. In addition to specializing in Environmental Law, Vermont Law School students can pursue specializations in Food and Agriculture Law, Climate Change Law, Energy Law, International Environment Law, Land Use Law, Water Resources Law, or Environmental Justice.

The Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 151 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.25.

4. (tie) University of California Los Angeles

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UCLA School of Law houses the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, which was founded in 2008, and researches and develops policy initiatives primarily to combat climate change. Students at the school can elect to pursue an Environmental Law Specialization, which is integrated into the Emmett Institute. Interested students can also gain real-world experience in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic. 

The Fall 2019 incoming students at UCLA School of Law had a median LSAT score of 168 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.79.

3. University of California Berkeley

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Berkeley Law has two relevant programs: the Environmental Law Program and the Energy Law Program. In addition to taking a wide array of elective courses, students can engage in interdisciplinary research through the Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment (CLEE), which works to “develop smart, practical solutions to critical environmental and energy challenges including climate change, renewable energy, sustainable water, and healthy oceans.” BerkeleyLaw also runs the nation’s top environmental law journal—Ecology Law Quarterly—which is entirely student-run.

BerkeleyLaw’s Class of 2022 had a median LSAT score of 168 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.81.

1. (tie) Pace University

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Started in 1978, the Environmental Law Program at Pace University today offers over 40 courses in environmental law. Students have the opportunity to engage in research in the university’s Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies, the Energy & Climate Center, and the Land Use Law Center. Students in the program can build their own curriculum, selecting a course of study that closely aligns with their professional interests within the field. Practical experience is gained through the Environmental Litigation Clinic and the Food and Beverage Law Clinic, as well as through externships with the United Nations or NYC environmental agencies and organizations.

The Class of 2021 had a median LSAT score of 151 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.31.

1. (tie) Lewis and Clarke Law School

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Located in Portland, Oregon, Lewis & Clark Law School’s Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law program shares the top spot with Pace. The extensive, year-long environmental curriculum allows students to choose from a breadth of courses. Students can earn academic credit working in an environmental externship—recent placements have included law firms and government organizations in Oregon, the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and internationally at the Center for International Environmental Law in Geneva, Switzerland. Locally, students gain practical experience in public interest environmental law through one of Lewis & Clark’s legal clinics, the Earthrise Law Center. 

The Fall 2018 entering class at Lewis & Clark had a median LSAT score of 158 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.38.

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