An Overview of Environmental Law: Starting a Career in the Field
Are you interested in a career in Environmental Law? Read on to find out what it takes to start one, how much you can expect to earn, and how the field evolves.
Environmental lawyers are becoming more critical than ever before as society becomes more aware of humans' impact on our environment. Environmental law covers many areas, including sustainability, climate change, pollution prevention, and clean-up efforts. This article will protect some information about starting your career in this fascinating field.
What Is Environmental Law and Why Should You Care
One reason you should care about environmental law is that it affects all of us. Humans rely on the natural world for survival. If we want to continue living here in an intact ecosystem with healthy plants & animals, then someone needs must keep watch over what goes into making up their habitats! It's not just humans who need protecting either; other inhabitants like birds spend much time feeding off bugs that live near trees or flowers - so any change at all to the ecosystem could have a knock-on effect that harms those creatures as well.
An environmental lawyer is responsible for understanding the many varied, ever-changing laws and regulations about our environment. They represent a wide range of clients in environmental case law and legislation. Many environmental lawyers enter the field through a love of the outdoors and protecting the natural world in which we live. Environmental lawyers are often required to appear in federal, state, and administrative law court proceedings. They may be representing governmental agencies, citizens' groups, or individual plaintiffs.
It would help if you also cared about this topic because many lawyers and people with legal knowledge are needed to enforce our laws, policies, and regulations. Environmental law has become so complex over time that it requires intelligent & educated people to understand what is going on, how it affects the environment, and what needs doing for things to even out.
The Job of Environmental Lawyers
Choosing a career as an environmental lawyer means that you are choosing a job where no two days will ever be alike. There are many different types of jobs available in this field, including:
- Regulatory Compliance Specialist
- Air Pollution Control Engineer
- Fire Protection Engineer
- Environmental Scientist / Consultant
There are no jobs available for those with these backgrounds, showing how environmental law is a growing area of interest in the legal industry. There are also jobs available for lawyers who wish to work in private practice, doing things like helping companies with their compliance issues or even working on the other side where they would act as an attorney for a corporation being sued.
Many environmental lawyers ensure that corporations follow EPA regulations. The EPA website provides information about environmental acts like the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Duties of an Environmental Attorney
- Create legal correspondence and other documentation
- Recommend corrective action and fines for offenders
- Effectively communicate how an event or plan may negatively impact humans or wildlife
- Provide legal advice to protect endangered species and natural resources from development initiatives that would cause harm or destruction of habitats for these animals
- Provide counsel to clients
- Determine if there is enough evidence to represent a business, individual, or government agency
- Assess damages and impact from an event Interview clients and other people of interest to compile evidence to develop a case
- Effectively and persuasively present evidence and other findings at trial
How to Start a Career in Environmental Law
To get a job in environmental law, you need extensive knowledge and experience. In addition, certain types of positions require that the person has gone through school programs or internships with an organization that deals exclusively on these matters--such as The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Environmental law encompasses a broad area of legal issues, rules, and regulations regarding the environment. These include, but are not limited to, air quality, water quality, protection of species, hazardous waste, wetlands, agriculture, waste management, biodiversity, sustainability strategies, alternative energy sources, and green initiatives. Environmental lawyers are called upon to handle these issues and advise clients on sustainability, green standards, climate change, global warming, and the environment.
Second-career attorneys with science or engineering degrees, particularly prior experience in the environmental field, may find practicing environmental law rewarding because they can use their scientific expertise and practical implementation experience.
Educational Requirements for Environmental Laws
Aspiring environmental lawyers should consider how the degree will help them to become better at their jobs. Most work in environmental law requires at least a bachelor's degree, though some jobs may require further education. A Master of Laws (LLM) is needed for many of the most prominent positions within this field, including those specializing in Environmental Law or Sustainable Development. This advanced degree will prepare you to practice law as an attorney and consult some of the most complicated environmental cases.
The undergraduate degrees in environmental laws are perfect for those looking to work on important, complex issues that affect our society. A bachelor's degree is required to be admitted into law school. There isn't a specific program of study required; however, law students may consider seeking an undergraduate degree in environmental policy, environmental science, environmental justice, business management, or government. Programs about these subjects may help students as they apply to the best environmental law schools. A law school admission test, such as the LSAT, is required for entry into law school. Passing the bar exam is required to practice law as an attorney.
There are other options available for education for those unable to attend law school, including online programs or attending a community college first and then transferring credits over onto your bachelor's program before applying for an advanced degree in environmental law. Online courses allow you access to the same materials and educational resources you would receive on campus, including classroom time with your professor.
Many ecological law schools offer internships and other work experience opportunities for students, so you'll have a chance to get hands-on experience in this field before even graduating. It can help set you apart when applying for jobs after graduation.
High school students interested in environmental laws should consider taking sciences courses like biology and chemistry, and math. These will help you to get a strong start on your undergraduate studies.
The NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action organization - not only do they work to educate people about how they can help maintain a clean & healthy environment and provide opportunities for those who wish to become involved in their efforts. In addition, they offer a summer fellowship program for those who want to work with them and gain experience.
The American Bar Association (ABA) provides a listing of certificate programs if you are interested in choosing a law school that offers certification in environmental law.
Getting Experience in Environmental Law
One way to get experience is to work as a volunteer. You can do this through your law school or other professional organizations that focus on this area of law, such as the NRDC, where lawyers and scientists provide pro bono legal services for those who cannot afford them.
Another way to get experience in environmental practice is to take an internship at a respected organization involved in these areas. It could be an office environment In private firms. It will give you the practical expertise lacking from your school program and show prospective employers what you're capable of doing.
Finally, one way to get experience in ecological law is by working with a lawyer or in-house counsel with extensive knowledge and contacts within this field (and may even offer you a permanent position after completing your internship).
Skills Required to Prepare Students for Environmental Law Career
In addition to a solid educational background, a successful environmental lawyer will need to have many skills, including research, analysis, negotiation, and written and verbal communication. To deal with the public and other organizations involved in your cases or projects, you need exceptional people skills that will help you get along well with everyone. You also need to have critical thinking and reasoning skills, as you will be required to determine why this case is essential and how it impacts the environment. Aspiring lawyers must have a passion for their career, such as knowing environmental rights, facilitating green initiatives, and tackling global warming.
Environmental Lawyer Salary
The median salary of environmental attorneys (and these are people who have already spent years working in this field) is around $62,000. It means that if you are starting fresh with your law degree, it could be a long time before you can expect to see anything near what the average lawyer makes. However, there are some benefits of choosing ecological law over other legal specialties, including better job security and higher pay for those who work in law firms.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of environmentalists is $58,000.
Environmental lawyers working for a local government make an average of $60,000 per year. In contrast, those working in state government entities can expect to earn slightly more with an annual income averaging around $64,000. Lawyers who work for federal agencies are among the highest earners at about $88,000, while lawyers in the executive branch earn an average of $98,000.
How to Get a Career in Environmental Law
If you are interested in environmental issues and the environment itself, this field might be right up your alley. When looking for environmental lawyer jobs, look for organizations and firms that lobby for strong policies for renewable energy, storage, and transmission.
Environmental lawyers work in government, non-profit organizations, within the private sector for businesses, or public interest lawyers.
Who Hires Environmental Lawyers?
Most environmental lawyers work in law firms or for government agencies. More and more people are becoming concerned with the environment, so there is a growing need for those who wish to be part of this field.
An environmental attorney working for the government may help defend public land. When corporations or individuals cause mass pollution or other environmental harm, environmental lawyers represent the prosecution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) often hires these individuals. Many private practices specialize in environmental law or hire several lawyers to specialize in it. Environmental lawyers can also start their training.
Environmental Lawyer Job Search & Job Description
The legal job description of an environmental lawyer includes both regulatory practice and litigation work. Job duties and skills required for environmental lawyers are broad and may include:
- Drafting legislation for environmental law
- Lobbying elected officials in legal avenues
- Advising environmental policymakers at all levels of government
- Designing new featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results.
- Environmental regulations and compliance
- Scientific testing and interpretation
- Public speaking / public education
- Environmental impact assessment, research, and analysis for current or proposed policies.
Other Types of Law You Might Be Interested In
- Natural Resource Law
- Oil and Gas Law
- Water Law
Resources for Job Seekers & Law Students
For more information on what it takes to get a job in environmental law or how much money you can expect to make, check out the resources below: