I spent my Princeternship shadowing Elizabeth Corwin ’89, who is the Associate Director of Academic Success at Pace Law School. A sense of environmental duty pervades Pace Law School’s campus, and I was happily surprised by the intimacy of the community. Although many students and faculty members attend large campus events like the Environmental Law Open House, everyone seemed to know each other, and all the students seemed to be volunteering or working for at least one professor. Pace emphasizes hands-on learning more than my experience with undergraduate studies, and students received class credit for interning with the Environmental Protection Agency and law firms.
I was also surprised by the variety of reasons for which people attend the law school. As one of the students with whom I had lunch said, people attend Pace for three reasons: they are passionate about the environment and see law as a means through which they can create change, they are passionate about law and enjoy the tasks required of a lawyer, or they are unsure of what they want to do and think law would be interesting to try. Most of the students in the environmental law program fit in the first category, and it was exciting to speak with fellow environmentalists and learn that environmental law can be applied to policy, management, and public administration issues.
Several students I interacted with said that the discussions with their peers are among the most valuable aspects of law school. I sat in a comparative environmental law seminar with Professor Harmon and four other students. They were from Brazil, China, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, and all shared a concern for natural resource overuse that they felt their communities back home did not prioritize enough. In a class with students of such interestingly diverse backgrounds, I felt that a valuable part of the course was comparing moral environmental issues from around the world. In this course, I rediscovered how much I enjoyed a Socratic style of teaching, where the desks are arranged in a circle that encourages students to share their opinions.
The most rewarding part of this experience was talking to students, learning what motivated them to choose environmental law as a means through which they hoped to tackle environmental issues, and what they were already doing to enact change. My immediate post-college plans of working for an environmental organization or volunteering abroad have not changed. However, if I feel I need more credibility later in an environmental career, I see law as an ideal way to equip me for a future in environmental policy.