Government Sector | Law Firms | Nonprofit
Governments, public, and private entities look to graduates of Oregon Law’s long-established and top-ranked Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center when selecting well-qualified employees.
Oregon Law alumni who pursue concentrations in Environmental and Natural Resources Law or Ocean and Coastal Law enjoy a wide variety of opportunities upon graduation from law school.
Most environmental law graduates pursue jobs in the public interest or government sector, working in agencies and organizations, including:
- US Department of Justice
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Environmental Protection Agency
- Attorney generals’ offices, tribal agencies
- The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
- The Sierra Club
- The Wilderness Society
- Southern Environmental Law Center
- Trust for Public Lands.
Many of our alumni who pursue public interest work do so through private practices. Known as “private public interest law,” these practices include attorneys who work in private law firms, but who regularly represent smaller clients against large economic interests or government.
The Career Center offers a number of resources for students seeking summer work, semester-long externships, or part time employment, as well as provides assistance for alumni in need of career support after graduation.
Areas of Practice
International: United Nations, foreign governments, American Samoa, World Bank
Federal: EPA, Department of Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Defense (and US Army Corps of Engineers), NOAA Fisheries (Department of Commerce), Department of Agriculture (Forest Service), State Department, Senate or House (working as staff for individual senators or congressmen, or working as staff for committees).
State: State attorney general offices, state environmental agencies, state water agencies, state lands agencies, Senate or House (working as staff for individual senators or congressmen, or working as staff for committees).
Local: Prosecuting attorney (civil), municipal, and public utilities.
Many Law School alums find work in private law firms, either specific to environmental issues or in a specialized division of a larger law firm. Often, environmental law firms are also public interest-focused, nonprofit law firms. Alumni also practice public interest environmental law in private practices or firms.
Examples of public interest litigation firms include Earthjustice, Western Environmental Law Center, and the Land and Water Fund.
Main Types of Law Firms:
Many large firms include sectors relating to the environment, such as energy law, water law, natural resources law, and environmental law.
These firms hold 501(c)(3) nonprofit status where they represent environmental clients. There are other nonprofits who maintain in-house counsel to represent their organization in various ways, and nonprofits who have a litigation department but whose primary environmental purpose is not necessarily litigation.
Private Public Interest
Many alumni participate in what has been coined “private public interest law.” This includes attorneys who work in private law firms, but who regularly represent smaller clients against large economic interests or government.
One of the great ways environmental attorneys serve the public and the environment is through nonprofit organizations.
Pubic interest and environmental law at UO are closely tied through programming, coursework, and the Law School’s student-led Land Air Water group, which hosts the largest public interest environmental law conference in the world every year.
This sector includes:
- Advocacy organizations that might also be plaintiffs in lawsuits (e.g., the Wilderness Society and American Lands Alliance)
- National with regionally-based offices (e.g., National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club)
- Regional (e.g., Southern Environmental Law Center, Alliance for Wild Rockies, Northwest Ecosystems Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Law Foundation of New England, etc.)
- State-based groups (e.g., OregonWild, Washington Trout, Idaho Rivers United, and Trustees for Alaska)
- Local organizations (e.g., Oregon Natural Desert Association, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, and Friends of Evergreen Highway)
Many law firms also qualify as nonprofit organizations. Examples of nonprofit firms are listed in the Law Firm section.