Info for ESPM Students

With Information on:



ESPM students with a particular interest in the interaction of law and environmental issues are encouraged to explore the environmental law classes available at the Boalt Hall School of Law. A number of those classes are accessible to non-law students, and would provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about the legal structure that shapes environmental policy and management, as well as to interact with and learn from law students. In order to encourage ESPM students to take advantage of these opportunities, the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE), in cooperation with the faculty at ESPM, has compiled the following information about:

  • Courses at Boalt which are suitable for non-law students and whose faculty are willing to admit ESPM students into their class; and,
  • The logistics of how ESPM students can cross-register for classes at Boalt.


Law Classes Open to Cross-Registration

ESPM students may only take law classes that accept non-Boalt students. All of the classes listed above accept ESPM students. Some law classes may also cap the number of non-law students that may cross-register. Please note that the law school limits the total number of credits that an ESPM student may take at the law school to eight.

Registration Process

Please note that the official list of Boalt classes to be taught in the upcoming semester is posted relatively late – usually well after the beginning of the TeleBEARS registration process for other departments. Moreover, you will not be able to officially register for a law class until after completing the petition process to cross-register (see below), and that process does not begin until after the law class has actually begun. Accordingly, if you want to try and confirm in advance when a class is being taught and whether there is space in the class, you should contact the course instructor.

Petition Process

In order to register for classes at Boalt, ESPM students will need to complete an Interdepartmental Application form that is available from the law school registrar’s office. The form must be approved by the instructor of the Boalt class, the Boalt Dean of Students (Annik Hirshen), and the head of ESPM or your advisor. Barring unusual circumstances, the classes listed above will generally be approved by the Boalt instructor and the Boalt Dean of Students for cross-registration by an ESPM student.

After you have completed the petition and submitted it to the Boalt registrar, you will be given a course control number approximately two weeks into the law school semester. You will then be able to register for the class via TeleBEARS.

The petition form contains additional useful information about the cross-registration process at the law school.

Calendar and Schedule

There are significant differences between the law school and ESPM calendars that ESPM students should be aware of. First, Boalt classes usually start a week earlier than ESPM classes. While some law school instructors are willing to have ESPM students start a week into the semester, we nonetheless strongly encourage you to plan ahead and start your semester a week earlier, so that you do not fall any further behind in the class then you have to. If you think that you want to take a law school class but will not be able to attend class until a week into the law school semester, we strongly recommend you contact the instructor ahead of time to talk with him or her about this.

Second, law classes start on time, rather than ten minutes after the hour (as is common elsewhere on campus). Given this point, and the geographic distance between the main ESPM buildings and the law school, we do not recommend that ESPM students schedule a law school class immediately after an ESPM class.

Grading and Evaluation

All of the classes listed above must be taken for a grade. They may not be taken on a pass-fail or credit/no-credit basis.

Law classes often evaluate student performance in a very different way from other graduate courses. Many law classes rely on a single final examination for evaluation, with class participation providing a tie-breaker. Some law classes may allow you to write a paper under faculty supervision instead of taking the final exam.

While the law school does have a separate grading system and curve from the rest of the university, ESPM students who take law school classes will be graded on the ESPM system and outside the standard law school curve.


The following classes at Boalt are suitable for cross-registration by ESPM students – i.e., the classes do not require an extensive technical background or prerequisites. The instructors of these classes have also indicated their willingness to admit ESPM students into their classes. Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list – other classes may be added in the future, and ESPM students are encouraged to explore other classes at Boalt which appear relevant to their course of study. More information about law classes in general can be found at:

Law 271 – Environmental Law & Policy
Instructor: Holly Doremus, Dan Farber
Units: 3

This introductory course is designed to explore fundamental legal and policy issues in environmental law. By focusing on constitutional issues and a limited number of federal statutes--principally the Administrative Procedure Act, the Clean Air Act; the Clean Water Act; CERCLA (the Superfund law),; the National Environmental Policy Act; and the Endangered Species Act--the course exposes students to the principal approaches to environmental law (litigation, command and control regulation, market incentives, and providing information), as well as to the challenges of setting environmental policy goals and choosing policy targets. The course is designed both for students who intend to pursue environmental studies further and for those who simply want to gain a basic understanding of this key area of public policy.
Additional Information: ESPM students interested in learning more about the structure and fundamental principles behind U.S. domestic environmental law should consider this class.

Law 273.6 Public Lands and Natural Resources Law
Instructor: Eric Biber
Units: 3
This is a survey course covering the core of both federal public lands law and broader natural resource law issues. The course first introduces foundational principles of constitutional and administrative law that apply to federal land management and federal agency operation, with a focus on how those principles specifically apply to and interact with public lands and resource management questions. The course then surveys the full range of federal public lands laws, including the National Forest Management Act, the General Mining Law of 1872 and related laws, the Taylor Grazing Act and FLPMA. This course also explores policy and managerial issues relating to the federal public land system and the agencies that administer it, such as the National Forest system, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park system. In the course of discussing these topics of federal law, the course investigates broader policy and legal issues (including relevant state law) in forestry, mining, oil and gas development, and the public trust doctrine.
Additional information: This class would be useful for ESPM graduate students studying U.S. forestry, rangeland, or protected areas policy.

Law 271.2 – Biodiversity Law
Instructor: Eric Biber
Units: 3
This class provides an overview of the most important legal tools in the United States for the protection of biodiversity. The course begins with a short overview of the history of wildlife law in the United States. It then turns to a detailed examination of the most important statute for protecting biodiversity in the United States, the Endangered Species Act. The course wraps up with an overview of the most important habitat protection statutes (particularly wetlands protection under the Clean Water Act), constitutional limits on biodiversity protection, and a glimpse at emerging issues such as control of invasive species and international environmental law. Though the class focuses on the legal structure for protecting biodiversity, it will also explore important policy questions such as the role of science and politics in decisionmaking, the meaning and value of diversity, and assessments of the success or failure of the ESA.
Additional information: ESPM students studying conservation biology or biodiversity policy may find this class helpful.

Law 274.12 - Workshop of Development and the Environment
Instructor: Robert D. Infelise
Units: 3
The intersection of environmental and land use law, on one hand, and the real world of real estate development, on the other, is filled with complexities and trade-offs. The answers to many legal questions raised by some development projects are not easily discerned from the law. Furthermore, large-scale development projects almost always have measurable negative impacts on the environment, while at the same time often improving the lives of some people. As a result, the social and economic utility of projects is often difficult to determine. Lawyers inevitably find themselves in the middle of these conflicts.
In past years, the Workshop students have focused on a major public works project. Last year the Workshop students focused on the environmental issues surrounding the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. The focus of the spring Workshop will be announced at a later date.
Each week the class will be visited by a person involved in or knowledgeable about some facet of the project. The students will interview the guest. In a separate forty-minute session each week, the class will discuss the information gleaned from the interviews and from outside research. The final project will consist of the preparation of a single “White Paper” on the project, which will be made available to the media and to policymakers.
Additional Information: This class would be of interest for ESPM students interested in practical experience in the interaction of law and environmental policy.

Law 272.1 - Water Resources Law
Instructor: Holly Doremus 
Units: 3
This course, emphasizes western water law with special attention to California. We deal at length with public rights in water, the public trust, area of origin claims, federal and Indian reserved rights, interstate controversies, environmental assessment, and the limitations of the takings clause on reallocations of water use. Water pollution and water quality are addressed only peripherally.
Additional Information: This class would be useful to ESPM students focusing on water policy and management questions, particularly in the United States.

Law 264.1 - Ocean Law & Policy
Instructors: Harry Scheiber
Units: 3
The global crisis in oceans resources is one of the major issues in both international law and environmental law for the 21st century. In this course, students will participate in weekly class discussion of materials relating to the history of ocean resource management and other aspects of ocean law (navigation, pollution, jurisdiction offshore, naval security, etc.), with most of the course concentrating on the UN Law of the Sea Convention and its implementation since 1982. We will analyze through study of treaties and commentaries the character and operations of various regional ocean organizations in which, under many multilateral agreements, environmental protection, fisheries and whaling, exploitation of marine genetic resources, and other issues have been addressed. One segment of the course will consider the various mechanisms and institutions of dispute settlement in ocean conflicts. Visiting speakers from practice and the international judiciary occasionally participate. Grading is based on class participation, including an oral report, and a paper.
Additional Information: This class could be useful to ESPM students focusing on marine conservation and resource management issues. Please note that class size is quite limited, and that all students must complete a paper as part of the class.

Contact Information

If you have any questions about cross-registering for classes at the law school, please contact Professor Eric Biber at or at 643-5647.