Back to School
By: Will Halnon
The end of summer signals the start of a new school year, and to our relief, additional legal support for Chesapeake Legal Alliance staff. Because our six in-house attorneys take on as much legal work as possible throughout the Bay region, we rely heavily on the support of bright law students around the watershed. These students provide a variety of assistance to our staff, including performing extensive legal research, helping to draft legal documents, providing litigation support, and creating presentations and educational resources for our Community Legal Education Center.
Our first tier of direct support comes from our seasonal law clerks. Every spring, summer, and fall, we enlist two to three law students to join CLA staff for an educational experience working through our diverse to-do list, which might include items like putting a stop to nefarious developers attempting to side-step permit requirements, identifying and holding accountable major polluters, developing cutting-edge legal strategies to help communities in need, and drafting and promoting clean-water legislation. This fall, we are thankful to have three second-year law students from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law on the team, contributing their talents toward restoring the Bay. While our current clerks all attend Maryland Carey Law, previous clerks have hailed from schools throughout the watershed, even across the country, including Howard University School of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, the George Washington University Law School, University of Virginia School of Law, Vermont Law & Graduate School, and the Santa Clara University School of Law.
Outside of our clerk program, CLA teams up with a number of law school clinics, law school classes, and environmental law student groups, providing students with practical legal research opportunities that help further CLA’s mission while offering them oversight, feedback, and support from licensed, environmental attorneys. CLA works to provide students with resources from our legal education department, mentorship and networking opportunities, and attorney oversight and guidance from staff. One specific example is when CLA partnered with the University of Baltimore School of Law to help students studying environmental law develop and present a competitive proposal in the Environmental Law and Policy Hack Competition hosted by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, which earned a finalist position in the competition. Another standout partnership is with the Environmental Law Clinic at Maryland Carey Law. Headed by Associate Professor, and CLA board member, Seema Kadade, this group of approximately 10 student attorneys has assisted CLA staff with a number of important matters, including ongoing work to address industrial stormwater runoff in Baltimore City and assisting CLA staff attorneys with a comment letter to MDE regarding renewal of a statewide general permit to control construction stormwater runoff in Maryland. This letter focused on issues regarding climate change, public notice, and protective water quality standards. It isn’t surprising that this clinic won the American Bar Association Student Program of the Year Award in 2018.
The assistance we receive from these students cannot be overestimated, and likewise, we are proud to help foster future Bay advocates. If you would like to support our clerkship program, or provide CLA the ability to offer greater resources and opportunities to law students across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, please consider making a donation today.
Senior Attorney, Molly Brown, and Staff Attorney, Will Halnon, discuss the intersections between environmental law and public health with law students at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.