Students enroll concurrently for four units of clinical fieldwork (i.e., representation of a live client) and a two-unit classroom seminar. We also include both a short and a full-day site visit to areas of environmental issue interest; in the past, we’ve met with farmworkers facing drinking water scarcity and pollution in the Salinas Valley; we’ve done a “Toxics and Resilience” tour of Richmond with a community organizer versed in pollution issues associated with the Chevron oil refinery; and we’ve conducted walking tours of campus and downtown Berkeley to explore ultra-local environmental issues and controversies.
Our clinic projects are performed by teams of 2 to 4 students. We often represent grassroots environmental justice groups and environmental organizations, but we also do legislative drafting and provide policy advice to government agencies, and represent diverse individual clients. Among our individual clients, for example, have been an Inupiaq health worker and tribal activist in Alaska; a fisher in the Gulf Coast region; a UC Berkeley public health researcher; and a North Carolina resident poisoned by a local pesticide application.
The classroom seminar component combines substantive and procedural law relevant to clinic projects with advocacy skills training in areas such as client interviewing, effective use of public records requests, oral advocacy, and legislative strategy. We also discuss legal ethics issues relevant to environmental law practice; the many roles and practice contexts for environmental lawyers; and theories of how social change occurs. We additionally explore the interrelationship between legal advocacy and messaging strategies, and include media training to help elevate the public profile of our causes and clients.