LLM in Environmental Law

Master of Laws in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law


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For years lawyers from around the world have moved to Portland, Oregon to pursue the LLM in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law at Lewis & Clark. We are pleased to now offer this degree in a flexible and engaging 100% online format.


Program Highlights:

  • Specifically designed for attorneys who want to address today’s global environmental legal issues.
  • Connect with and join Environmental Law alumni who are impacting advocacy.
  • Our program is 100% online, taught by some of the nation’s leading scholars.
  • Tuition awards, scholarships, and financial aid.

Why pursue an LLM in Environmental Law at Lewis & Clark?

A Top-Ranked Environmental Law Program: Choose one of the U.S. News & World Report verified best environmental law programs nationwide. This high-value and renowned degree can greatly enhance your career prospects upon graduation.


Flexible and Interactive Online Format: Completely online courses feature interactive and flexible coursework, asynchronous structure, and exceptional student support. You deserve an online degree that’s convenient, current, and intuitive.


Excellence Anywhere: The LLM program guarantees prospective students the same high level of academic excellence, rigor, and standards whether on campus or online.


Access to Top Professors and Learning Experiences: World-class and acclaimed professors curate innovative course content for an unparalleled student experience.


You Are Our Priority: Thanks to our commitment to your well-being and success, every student receives personalized support addressing their individual needs. Offering personal attention to every student through assigned faculty advisors and dedicated staff signals a commitment to supporting the individual needs of online students.


Financial Aid and Tuition Awards: We provide tuition awards determined by both merit and financial need, resulting in a reduction in tuition per credit. Additionally, Federal financial aid is available, with a minimum requirement of 3 credits per semester for part-time students and 5 credits per semester for full-time students.


Networking and Collaboration: Engage in online interaction and networking by connecting with fellow online students throughout your program. Cultivate a professional network, even within the online learning environment.


Career Opportunities: Discover a world of career opportunities tailored for online and LLM students through our dedicated Career Services department. Our team is committed to guiding you towards success, providing personalized support and resources to shape your path in the legal field. Read more about our alumni success stories.


Designed to Accommodate Working Professionals: This program is geared to maximize your time and help you reach your goals. You will have access to technical support, interactive learning elements, virtual office hours, and more, all fit around your existing personal and professional responsibilities.


Law school requires 26 credit hours of coursework for U.S. students, and 28 credit hours of coursework for international students. Students can choose from the wide variety of courses listed below.

Administrative Law3 Credit Hours (required for U.S. students unless taken as a JD; highly recommended for international students.)

Administrative law is the law relating to administrative agencies. It includes constitutional law (especially separation of powers and procedural due process), federal statutory law (especially the Administrative Procedure Act), and state statutory law. The validity of government agencies’ actions depends on compliance with administrative law. Thus, lawyers for agencies, regulated industries, and public interest groups are vitally concerned with administrative law. This course uses a problem orientation to stress practical application of administrative law.


Environmental Law3 Credit Hours (required for all students unless taken as a JD)

This is an essential course for anyone wanting to practice in this field, this course provides a survey of federal environmental laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. We focus on these statutes for two main reasons. First and foremost, we do so because they are the statutes that most environmental lawyers deal with the most often in practice, whether they are governmental attorneys, private practitioners, or public interest advocates. Second, we do so because these programs provide a nice overview of most of the approaches that Congress has utilized in the environmental area. Students who are familiar with these approaches will find it relatively easy to adapt their knowledge to other similar statutes using one or more of the same approaches.


Emerging Topics in Environmental, Natural Resources, and Energy Law 1 credit/offered fall and spring

2 credits are required for LLMs; one or two credits are optional for MSLs. 

Particularly in recent years, changes in the natural resources/environmental/energy law field have come at an accelerated pace. Political changes due to elections and current events, scientific advances, far-reaching decisions by influential courts, and the consequences of global phenomena such as climate change and invasive species can profoundly alter legal and policy approaches to key problems and issues in a short time period. This class examines current developments in the law governing management and protection of the environment and natural resources, as well as explores broader themes related to these topics through special opportunities to gain perspective from notable outside experts. Much of the schedule each semester will remain flexible in order to permit a focus on breaking issues and decisions. We will cover a range of topics in the field depending on current events. The course consists of lectures and readings on a variety of topics and responding to discussion questions. Students will also write a short blog on an environmental topic of their choice that is posted on our Website.



Introduction to U.S. Environmental Law and Legal Studies2 Credit Hours (for international LLM students)

To help international Master of Laws (LLM) students, Master of Studies (MSL) students, and visiting international scholars with the complexity of learning advanced concepts in a United States law school, Lewis & Clark has developed the Introduction to U.S. Environmental Law and Legal Studies seminar that is offered before the start of the academic year (and other semesters as needed). This seminar is mandatory for all international LLM students and all Master of Studies students.


Topics covered in the seminar include a basic introduction to the U.S. legal and governmental system, an overview of U.S. environmental law, and instruction on legal research and writing, study techniques, and exam taking. This seminar is mandatory for all international LLM. students and all Master of Studies students.

Energy Law: Electricity Regulation3 Credit Hours

This course will expose students to the legal, economic, structural, and social issues involved in electricity regulation and policy. Covered topics include: the history and evolution of regulation of electric utilities as monopolies, utility ratemaking, traditional state jurisdiction over utilities, the Federal Power Act, electricity restructuring, electricity transmission, and an introduction to renewable power policies.


Natural Resources Law & Science3 Credit Hours
The class will present an interdisciplinary overview of natural resources law and policy and will also explore the interaction between law and science. The course will focus on law and policy considerations relevant to land and ecosystem management, as well as the management and conservation of biodiversity. The class will also consider the challenges inherent in integrating law, policy, and science to effectively protect and manage these resources. Finally, the course will highlight issues posed by both climate change and recent political change. Students will be expected to view the class videos in the timeframes allotted. The class will be evaluated based on class participation (through online discussion) and a final exam. The final exam will be unscheduled, meaning students can choose when to take it during the exam period.


Ocean & Coastal3 Credit Hours
The course provides an introduction to the laws regulating natural resources management and environmental protection of coastal and marine ecosystems. The course emphasizes conflicts between public and private uses of the coastal zone, state and federal conflicts, and natural resource issues. Specific topics covered in the course include coastal management, beach access and public trust, fisheries law and the law of the sea, protection of marine mammals, and ocean renewable energy development. Laws discussed include, among others, the Coastal Zone Management Act, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In addition, this course diverges from its U.S. law focus to discuss the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it relates to fisheries and vessel pollution and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.


Environmental Justice3 Credit Hours
The Environmental Justice movement demands fair treatment in the context of environmental protection for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, economic status, national origin and education level. It looks at environmental issues through the lens of discrimination and assesses how that discrimination shapes both vulnerability and resilience. This course examines the Environmental Justice movement and the disproportionate impacts borne by vulnerable constituents in the domestic and international context of government regulation, corporate activity, climate and energy concerns, and environmental degradation. Readings include selected cases, law review articles, case studies, executive orders, legislation, and UN declarations.


Legal Research: Environmental2 Credit Hours
This course will be offered online with no scheduled course meetings. Students will gain advanced understanding of the legal resources and research techniques used in the practice of environmental, natural resources, and energy law. We will cover sources and techniques beyond those of introductory research courses, with an emphasis on administrative materials and advanced statutory research, as well as exposure to current awareness tools, topical databases, international environmental legal research, legislative tracking and history, science and statistics sources, cost-effective research strategies, and current and archived sources of government information.
The course is designed to complement other environmental, natural resources, and energy law courses and clinics, and to allow students to apply knowledge gained in this class to their research, clinical, journal, and work experiences.


Climate Change: U.S. Law & Policy3 Credit Hours
This class will discuss U.S. law and policy. It will begin with an overview of climate science and a discussion of the existing and expected impacts of climate change. Next, the course will discuss federal laws, regulations, and policies that regulate greenhouse gases and otherwise address climate change impacts. The course will then discuss state and local approaches to address climate change. The class will also discuss climate change litigation in federal and state courts. Time permitting, the course will compare U.S. approaches to climate change law and policy in other countries.


Hazardous Waste Law3 Credit Hours
This course highlights the basic tension in environmental law: environmental integrity and economic growth; over‐regulation and under‐regulation; risk minimization and benefit maximization; command and control regulation and market incentives; federal and state levels of statutory interpretation; and the constitution, governing relations between the federal and
state government as well as between the three branches of the federal government.


International Environmental Law3 Credit Hours
This course examines the principal laws and institutions in the field of international environmental law. The course begins with a review of the philosophies guiding international environmental law: sustainable development and free trade. It then explores the fundamental principles of environmental and international law, including permanent sovereignty over natural resources, the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, and state responsibility for environmental harm. The course next examines issues of the global commons, such as ozone depletion, climate change, and depletion of ocean resources. It explores international treaties to protect biological diversity, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the International Convention on the Regulation of Whaling. It also examines major pollution issues, such as hazardous waste trade. Throughout these discussions, we examine development issues, the polarization of issues as developed and developing country issues and the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the development and enforcement of international environmental law.


Wildlife Law3 Credit Hours
The class examines legal mandates for the protection and management of biological diversity. Beginning with a brief overview of the scientific aspects of species, ecosystems, and genetic resources, the course includes consideration of the interplay between science and law throughout its survey of laws related to wildlife. Substantively, the class analyzes the property and constitutional underpinnings of state and federal wildlife laws, looks at examples and structures of state regulation of wildlife, and examines the special case of American Indians’ rights to, and control over, wildlife resources. The course also focuses on several federal statutory schemes, including the Lacey Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and laws and policies aimed at controlling invasive species. The course considers federal management of wildlife habitat under statutes such as the National Forest Management Act and National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, and briefly covers international efforts to protect biodiversity. Due to the statute’s broad influence on species conservation in the United States, the class devotes particular attention to the federal Endangered Species Act.


Water Law3 Credit Hours
This course explores legal schemes for securing and using water rights in surface water and groundwater for private and public uses in the United States. We will examine the riparian and prior appropriation doctrines of water allocation, groundwater management regimes, the public rights to water, and federal and tribal water management and regulation of water resources. We will also consider the evolving role of science, economics, and policy in water allocation law.


Individual Research: Environmental Topic – 1-3 Credit Hours

Individual research projects provide students with the opportunity to gain greater knowledge about a specific area of law that interests them. Students engage in individual research projects under the supervision of a faculty member. The project should involve a level of research, analysis, and writing that is similar to that of a WIE or Capstone project. An individual research project usually qualifies for one or two semester hours of credit, though 3-credit IR’s are available.


Students may choose to do a two or three credit Individual Research project over one or two semesters. Students who choose the two-semester option may take their credits in either semester, or over two semesters, at their discretion. Students who choose the two-semester option will receive an Extended Time (XT) grade at the end of the first semester. Once the paper is complete and graded, the student’s transcript will reflect that grade when grades are posted following the second semester. 

*Courses are not listed in the order that they need to be taken. A more in-depth course structure, and course descriptions are available upon request.

Application Requirements

Applicants for the LLM program must:

  • Demonstrate an excellent academic record, strong legal research and writing skills
  • Have a genuine interest in environmental, natural resources, or energy law
  • Hold, or be about to obtain, a law degree that would qualify an applicant to apply to practice as a lawyer or judge in their home country (JD if in the U.S., otherwise LLB or the equivalent)
  • Actual bar membership is not required
  • For U.S. students, a JD from an ABA-accredited law school is highly preferred. If you don’t have a JD or LLB consider our MSL degree

Please be prepared to provide as part of your application:

  • Statement of Interest (200-500 words)
  • Current Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • References and Letters of Recommendation
  • Unofficial Transcripts
  • GRE or LSAT test scores are not required

Expert Faculty

The faculty for the online LLM program includes many of the same professors who instruct our on-campus environmental law students. No matter the program, class, or faculty, our students come first. Learn more about our faculty.

Tuition & Financial Aid

We admit students on a rolling basis and encourage earlier applications to process financial aid and for course selection. The LLM program requires 26 credit hours of coursework for U.S. students and 28 credit hours of coursework for international students. The new online tuition rate for the 2024-2025 academic year is $1631/credit or $42,406 for 26 credits or $45,668 for 28 credits.

Federal Financial Aid

If you intend to apply for federal financial aid, please do not wait to be admitted or registered to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ® ) form (fafsa.gov) as financial aid decisions may take some time to process. Instructions and more information can be found at https://www.lclark.edu/offices/financial_aid/law/.

Tuition Awards Available

If you are applying for the LLM program and would like to be considered for a partial tuition award, please send an email to envlawmsl@lclark.edu.