NEDC offers unique hands-on learning experiences for Lewis and Clark law students interested in environmental law. Our volunteers describe what it was like to volunteer with NEDC during their 1L year.
I have sincerely enjoyed working with NEDC during my first year of law school. My work with the Public Lands & Wildlife group enhanced my 1L experience by providing me with friendly and knowledgeable student mentors and an opportunity to gain practical skills while working on issues that I care about. In my first semester, I participated in a letter-writing campaign to the Forest Service urging them to complete a winter travel plan for the Deschutes National Forest. This semester, I worked on a FOIA request to examine cattle grazing records in the Malheur National Forest. Having the opportunity to apply the legal skills thus far to initiatives that I am passionate about has helped me find community. My project managers have supported me and shown that even when I was the only 1L working on a given project, I was able to contribute in a valuable way. These moments make me look forward to continuing to volunteer with NEDC throughout the rest of my time at Lewis & Clark.
Working with NEDC during my 1L year has given me so many wonderful opportunities, including a thriving community of environmentally minded students and mentors to support me in my education. NEDC placed me in a position to effectuate actual change, and it did so by creating a network of students and advisors. Collaborating with the inspiring staff and volunteers helped me realize how I was surrounded by many like-minded individuals dedicated to achieving environmental sustainability.
Perhaps more importantly, NEDC gave me hands on experience with Clean Air Act problems. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was exposed to some of the worst air quality in the nation. The thermal inversions and absurd PM 2.5 concentrations in the winter were a seasonal spectacle. Additional summer ozone and wildfire smoke, combined with the emerging issue of dust storms from the basin of the former Great Salt Lake Basin left few days with clear skies. Watching the political debates over potential solutions, disputes between stakeholders, and institutional preferences to stay out of it, air quality reform became a driving force compelling me towards law school. NEDC has allowed me to dive into the weeds of an air quality permit review and compliance certification for a local mill and research and compile into fact sheets information about individualized impacts of point source polluters on local communities. In the midst of doctrinal classes like torts, civil procedure, and constitutional law, volunteering with the NEDC gave me the reminder of why I am here at Lewis & Clark, and why I am working for my J.D.
I decided to move across the country, from New York to Oregon, to attend Lewis & Clark and study environmental law. I am currently a 1L interested in environmental policy and my goal is to work for community members to preserve natural resources and ensure environmental justice. Because of the Food and Agriculture group within NEDC, I had the chance to work on a cooperative comment regarding a proposed CAFO last semester in Oregon. Being involved in this club has provided me with opportunities to work with my classmates to make a difference, which I didn’t think I would be able to do while in school!
Currently a 1L with an interest in environmental law, NEDC has been the highlight of my law school experience thus far. My passion for environmental advocacy is what drew me to law school, specifically Lewis and Clark. NEDC provides first year students the opportunity to work hands-on on local and regional projects that deal with real environmental issues. So far, I have worked on projects with the water, environmental justice and public lands groups. I have had the opportunity to write public comments, conduct legal research and become more familiar with FOIA review. Additionally, working on these projects has served as a great way to connect with inspiring upper division students as well as current 1Ls who share a passion for protecting our natural resources. My experiences with NEDC opened my eyes to what a law degree will allow me to do, and reminded me, amidst the endless pages of contracts reading, why I decided to pursue a law degree in the first place.