The emergence of the US News law "concentrations" have led to the development of specialties at T3/T4 schools that would not otherwise ever be highly-ranked by US News. (Although Vermont does legitimately have a good environmental law program.) They pump money into hiring top professors and developing a program in that practice area, but the school itself still doesn't have the cache for job hunting. Unfortunately for those schools, there's no major in law school. This is why I'd suggest you go to the best school that you can.Three initial things to consider:1) By the time you are applying for 1L jobs, you will have only taken 3-4 classes.2) By the time you are applying for 2L summer jobs, you will only have taken the standard first-year curriculum and the most you can demonstrate an interest curriculum-wise is in the courses you are enrolled in for fall of 2L on your transcript.3) With the exception of hard-IP, firms generally take you at your word that you are interested in a practice area if you can have an intelligent conversation about it, regardless of the classes you are taking fall of 2L year.I'd look for schools that have highly-ranked environmental journals and look for enviro clinics if that's what you want. Here are ways you can demonstrate your interest in environmental law, no matter what school you go to:1) Join an environmental law journal. (At some schools you can do both this and the main journal.)2) Do an environmental clinic.3) Write a note on an emerging topic in environmental law.4) Participate in national environmental law competitions (negotiations, moot court, writing competitions, etc.)5) Develop a seminar, ad hoc, or independent study on an environmental law topic.6) Do a RA gig with an environmental law professor.7) Join the enviro law section with the state lawyers' association and go to environmental law conferences.Doing a few of those things above will help you stand out as someone interested in environmental law at a T1 OCI. I imagine it would be much more difficult to stand out as interested in environmental law at a T3 OCI where nearly everyone is interested in environmental law.And, FWIW, I'm likely going into environmental law at a top firm having done nothing in law school, transcript or resume-wise, related to environmental law.
Something to consider that hasn't been addresses is what you mean by environmental law. The programs you will get at Vt and Lewis and Clark are much more geared for public sector, and, if I can stereotype only slightly, more of a conservative bent. If you are interested in the flavor of environmental law practiced by most BIGLAW firms, then a JD from one of the smaller specialty law schools will not go as far, especially if the hiring partners sense that you aren't a good fit for the type of industrial environmental compliance or transactional/development work most firms do. If you want to do public sector or private conservation legal work, then a less expensive three years at a tier 3 school with an environmental specialty is a better choice than t1 debt. But if firm work is for you, the specialty programs provide less.And my quick personal experience after working at an environmental boutique: almost no matter what, your first job will do the real environmental training, regardless of your JD program. At most, you'll have a few months' head start. If you're going to become a water lawyer or an air lawyer, your time in law school will only give you the surface; depth only comes on the job.Ivan
One thing to remember in environmental law is that if you want to go straight to private firm, you really need to watch which organizations feature prominently on your resume. Firms are on the watch for the crunchy granolas who can't handle working for their clients.
Quote from: YellowBrickRoad on October 19, 2008, 01:29:59 AMOne thing to remember in environmental law is that if you want to go straight to private firm, you really need to watch which organizations feature prominently on your resume. Firms are on the watch for the crunchy granolas who can't handle working for their clients.I understand Yellow disagrees with me based on their own experience, but a law school applicant who already knows they want to explore environmental law before going to law school should really focus on tailoring their resume to that end. If anything, the harder sell in getting a job is convincing a public interest org to hire you without having a crunchy side, not in convincing a firm you want to pursue the normal path and go into private practice.If you really want private firm work in environmental law (and at this point the OP doesn't seem to exist, so this goes for anyone else reading the thread), my best advice is that you choose a program with enough resources to give you a solid educational base and also provide you with summer/semester work that'll signal your interest and ability in learning all the complexities you'd be faced with (whether it's litigation, transactional, regulatory, or a mix).
I interned at one crunchy granola place in UG for one semester freshman year and left it on my resume to demonstrate my interest in environmental law. I spent all of the interviewing season basically trying to explain that I knew I'd be working for the bad guy and was OK with selling out. Am pretty sure I'd been better off having nothing on my resume for enviro law than having that organization on there. In one interview, I had a lawyer tell me that they usually don't interview people with places like that on the resume because they'd have a hard time working for the clients/become easily disillusioned. So you may not even get the chance to explain it.