Environmental Law Concentration Track

Environmental Law is a complex and often highly contentious area of law that responds to science, economics and ethics as they relate to the world's natural resources. Issues surrounding the use, ownership and stewardship of our natural resources and surrounding environment prompt intense legal and public policy debates. The University of Washington School of Law offers a J.D. concentration track in Environmental Law. Students are taught about the importance of statutory and administrative sources of environmental law, as well as the agency rulings and court opinions that interpret them.

Our faculty members are at the forefront of many new developments in environmental law, so students have early and complete access to changes in the law as they occur. In addition, researchers in other departments within the University of Washington contribute significantly toward much of the scientific study that ultimately prompts change in environmental law. School of Law faculty present these developments in context with other substantive areas of the law to provide practical training in applying environmental theories and ideals in all areas of legal practice.

Faculty Advisors

Program Requirements


Follow all of the steps outlined on the Concentration Tracks page.


(Not all courses will be available each year.)

Students must take a minimum of 30 credits in environmental law curriculum as follows:

  1. Students must take:
    1. A509 Administrative Law (4 credits)
    2. A527 Environmental Law: Pollution Control (4 credits)
    3. B585 Natural Resources Law (4 credits)
  2. Students must earn at least 9 credits in courses from the following list:
    1. A525 Water Law (3 credits)
    2. A529 Public Land Law (3 credits)
    3. A540 Land Use Planning (3 credits)
    4. A545 International Environmental Law (3 credits)
    5. A565 American Indian Law (4 credits)
    6. B529 Advanced Environmental Law and Practice (2 credits)
    7. B565 U.S. Coastal and Ocean Law (4 credits)
    8. E596 Wildlife Law (3 credits)
    9. E598 Climate Change and the Law (4 credits)
    10. With approval of the Environmental Law Track advisor, other advanced environmental law courses, or courses outside the law school related to environmental issues, may be used towards this requirement
  3. Applied:
    1. Writing Requirement
      • All students must complete an advanced writing project on an environmental law subject. Subject to approval by the Environmental Law Track advisor, this requirement may be satisfied by writing a major research paper in conjunction with an environmental seminar (4-6 credits), as part of an independent study (Advanced Writing Project Law E500), or by publishing a law journal article.
    2. Clinic Externship, or Equivalent Practice Requirement
      • Students must earn at least 6 credits by enrolling in the Regulatory Environmental Law and Policy Clinic or by completing an externship with an organization approved by the law school public service program and the Environmental Law Track advisor (such as American Rivers, Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Pacific Legal Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Natural Resources).
      • As part of meeting the externship requirement, students must take B567 General Externship Perspective Seminar (2 credits) or its equivalent (e.g. B529 Advanced Environmental Law and Practice Seminar (2 credits)).
      • The Environmental Law Track Advisor may waive the clinical or externship requirement for students who document equivalent practical experience in the area (e.g. through a summer internship focused on environmental law). To the extent that the student has equivalent experience, he or she must still take sufficient additional credits of approved environmental courses in order to meet the 30 credit hour minimum for the concentration.
  4. Other:
    1. To the extent that students have met the minimum course, writing, and applied requirements listed above and have not earned 30 credits, students may earn additional credits by (1) taking approved environmental courses (see section 2 above) or (2) taking any of the following courses, all of which are highly recommended and help develop essential lawyering skills for complex environmental litigation and practice:

Environmental Law Learning Outcomes

J.D. students electing to specialize in the Environmental Concentration Track should achieve the competencies expected of all J.D. students at the University of Washington. In addition, they should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the major federal statutes dealing with environmental and natural resources law;
  2. Understand how pollution control and natural resource management is achieved through a combination of federal statutes, state controls, and common law doctrines;
  3. Describe the overlay of administrative law frameworks on environmental regulatory decision-making;
  4. Appreciate the role of the federal and state judiciaries, as well as Congress, state legislatures and agencies, in formulating and implementing environmental policy;
  5. Express the scientific and technical dimensions of pollution control and natural resource management as well as the vital role science and scientists play in shaping environmental law and policy;
  6. Translate environmental law and policy into public and private land use planning;
  7. Formulate both legal and non-legal strategies in addressing environmental problems;
  8. Use knowledge and research skills to develop an in-depth written analysis of a specific environmental dispute; and
  9. Draw on clinical or externship experience to articulate the multi-dimensional and sometimes competing interests of a range of stakeholders to a particular environmental issue. 

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