Environmental Law Society Expands Environmental Law Opportunities for AUWCL Students

Environmental Law Society Hikers

The environmental program at American University Washington College of Law has developed from a few environmental classes into an entire array of course offerings, societies, opportunities, and programmatic initiatives for those interested in this growing field.

Of note is the Environmental Law Society (ELS), which has consistently allowed students more exposure to this area of law. The President of the ELS this year is Lauren Tavar, a 3L from Florida who found her passion for environmental law during her 1L year.

“ELS is great for networking purposes,” said Tavar. “We have brown-bag lunches where we bring in a practitioner from the field to discuss different environmental law issues. This also allows for connections and networking for internships.”

The society also provides events such as resume reviews and happy hours to bring together students and alumni, allowing them to connect with one another and find job or internship opportunities. Tavar believes the Society is also important for its ability to educate people on environmental law and other connected issues.

“We try to attract speakers who have applicability to other areas of the law as well so they can show students how the areas intersect,” she said. “The alumni who are focused in environmental law are so helpful, and they’re here and always willing to help – whether it be sending job postings or just making an introduction.”

The Environmental Law Society also hosts a hike every fall with the professors, which has become a tradition. All students, faculty, and friends are invited to attend the annual hike. “It’s a great way for students to meet with each other and the professors in a less formal setting while also spending some time outdoors,” said Tavar.

While Tavar has been very involved in this field, she credits her success to the help of Professors David Hunter and Bill Snape, as well as AUWCL alumni.

“Professors Hunter and Snape were really instrumental in guiding my path along. And a lot of students work at the Center for International Environmental Law because Professor Hunter has connections there.”

In addition to her involvement on campus, Tavar has also interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Environmental Integrity Project. She believes all of these opportunities were possible from attending law school in the D.C. area.

“A great part about being in D.C. is being able to intern at the various environmental law placements in the city–the environmental field is very competitive so having that advantage of working at these places in the fall and spring is a great thing. A lot of the students in the program end up working at EPA during the school year, which is certainly something they could not do at a law school outside of D.C.”

Environmental Law Society Hike

ELS Partners With Animal Law Society

Aside from the ELS, students interested in the field can also get involved with the Animal Law Society, as the two groups are very connected in many ways. The societies not only work together to promote the field as a whole, but also host events together to create a greater presence on campus.

The societies will host a joint “Mentoring, Networking & Resume Review” event on March 30, where alumni working in the field will help students think about career opportunities in the many areas of international and comparative environmental law.

ELS Students Attend Treaty Negotiations in South Africa

In addition to the Environmental Law Society’s involvement in the D.C. area, the Society recently obtained funding from the Student Bar Association to attend international treaty negotiations in South Africa this past September. Tavar and two other ELS members traveled to Johannesburg for a week for the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). She credits this opportunity to the connections and funding the society has received from the school for these types of opportunities.

The environmental law program has only continued to grow in recent years and has even developed an externship seminar specifically for environmental law students. The class brings together the students externing in the various subject areas of the field to talk about their experiences and build their connections.

Professors Snape, Haughey, and Hunter have also created the Environmental Law Directed Research Seminar, which allows students to connect with practitioners in the area and complete research projects in their fields of interest. The seminar allows students to make connections in this area of law, but outside of the formal externship process. Tavar herself participated in the program, working on legislative tracking for the Endangered Species Coalition.

“There’s a lot of course options in environmental law and animal law that people don’t always know exist – a lot of options that relate which students can take to learn more about this area of law,” said Tavar.