Defending the Environment: Law Clinic Offers Students Hands-on Experience

brown bear in the forest

Established in 1978, the Environmental Law Clinic at Oregon Law the was first of its kind in the nation. For nearly 30 years, the Clinic has partnered with the Western Environmental Law  Center (WELC), offering students the opportunity to defend wildlands, protect wildlife and safeguard the climate.

Part of what makes the collaboration with WELC’s so successful is the high caliber legal work that first and second-year law students engage in.

WELC’s Executive Director Erik Schlenker-Goodrich JD ‘99, says that Oregon law students have helped endangered species, protected clean water and public lands, and advanced important climate and energy work.

“Not only has this work provided students with experience necessary to serve as valued members of the environmental law community,” said Schlenker-Goodrich. “It has helped WELC further its mission of aiding the public interest and protecting the Western public lands, wildlife, and communities we treasure.”

Student projects

Mari Galloway, JD ‘20
Galloway researched state and tribal regulations for bobcat trapping to determine whether legal trapping may harm Endangered Species Act-listed Canada lynx. Her research led to a revised federal incidental take statement for bobcat trapping in lynx habitat in the lower 48 states.

Niki Vetter JD ’20
Vetter researched whether grizzlies are being shot and killed at black bear baiting stations in Idaho and Wyoming, and if so in which state game management units. Her research and data led to WELC filing a lawsuit challenging bear baiting in those states this June.

Corinne Milinovich JD ’19
Milinovich worked on issues concerning the marbled murrelet, leading to a WELC lawsuit seeking to overturn a decision denying a petition to uplist the bird to endangered under Oregon state law.

Matt DePaolis JD ’20
DePaolis’ research and writing were instrumental to a WELC lawsuit challenging a forest plan on the Flathead National Forest, bordering Glacier National Park. Matt drafted sections of the complaint, which aims to protect animals there, including grizzlies, wolves, lynx, wolverine, and bull trout.

By Brian Sweeny, Communications Director for WELC