Environmental Advocacy Clinic to partner with NWF

By Arielle King, Publisher

The Vermont Law School Environmental Action Clinic (EAC), formerly known as the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, announced a new partnership with National Wildlife Federation (NWF) on Oct. 9. The Clinic will serve as legal counsel for the Federation.

NWF was founded in the early 1900s, and aims to “Protect, Restore, and Connect Wildlife Habitat,” “Transform Wildlife Conservation,” and “Connect Americans with Wildlife,” according to NWF’s website.

With such deeply connected missions, this partnership simply reinforces the work the EAC has done since its inception: conserving and protecting this nation’s natural resources, while prioritizing education.

“A supermajority of the Clinic’s cases going forward will be representing NWF based on the Federation’s core programmatic areas,” said Jim Murphy, NWF’s Legal Advocacy Director, who now serves as the director of the Clinic.

These areas include water resources, climate and energy, public and private lands restoration and agriculture, and environmental justice issues. Murphy explained that this partnership is mutually beneficial. It increases NWF’s legal and litigation capacity by working with a “top-notch environmental law clinic,” which includes access to four staff attorneys, including Prof. Pat Parenteau as a Senior Advisor, and eager student clinicians.

Vermont Law School now has the ability to work with a national conservation organization that can bring a steady stream of largely high-profile federal cases around important resources or other important regulatory issues surrounding federal environmental statutes.

One of the first cases the Clinic has started working on since the partnership was announced is in the Bristol Bay in Alaska, which is commonly referred to as “America’s Fish Basket” because it is one of the most productive marine ecosystems and home to the largest salmon fishery in the world. The clinic will continue to take regional clients in addition to the national “high profile, high impact” cases that NWF brings.

“As long as [potential cases] fit with the Clinic’s mission, we have the capacity, and they are good issues” the clinic will likely be able to represent a new client, Murphy explained.

An important part of the intake process is ensuring that potential clients and co-counsel allow the Clinic to be in a lead position in the legal process, which will give student clinicians the ability to get the hands-on learning experience that the clinic prioritizes.

Disclaimer: Author Arielle King serves on Vermont Law School’s Board of Trustees as 2L Student Trustee.

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