Welcome to the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic portion of the website. The Clinic, with offices on Widener’s Wilmington, DE and Harrisburg, PA campuses, trains Widener students in the practice of law by helping the organizations and individuals it represents deal with legal issues that have potential environmental impacts–more than 240 students since the Clinic’s inception in 1989. The Clinic’s motto is “Preparing to Practice While Protecting the Planet,” and we take both aspects of it seriously. We’ve designed this site to give prospective Student Attorneys and Clients important information about the Clinic.
Who We Are
The Clinic trains the attorneys of tomorrow by giving Widener law students the opportunity to prepare for the practice of law through helping Clinic Clients protect the environment. Each Clinic Student Attorney works under the close supervision of the Clinic Director, Professor Kenneth T. Kristl, and learns by doing, watching, and reflecting on the Clinic’s representations and activities. Widener Student Attorneys and the Clinic Director work as a team to help Clinic Clients address environmental problems. The Student Attorneys take the Clinic as a for-credit class, usually over the course of their last year in law school. During the summer, first, second, and third year Widener law students serve as volunteer Clinic Interns to help Professor Kristl continue the Clinic’s representations until the new Student Attorneys can step in at the start of the Fall semester.
What We Do
The Clinic represents clients in a variety of different legal settings, including:
- Litigation. The Clinic can file cases in state and federal courts, participate in public hearings, and file appeals of decisions to the DE Environmental Appeals Board, the PA Environmental Hearing Board, or the state courts. Although permitting and enforcement of state or federal environmental laws is a primary focus, zoning and land use decisions that pose adverse environmental impacts, claims related to environmental damage, and public utility law are also areas the Clinic has handled. You can view our Current Public Docket of pending matters that is updated monthly.
- Public Policy Analysis. The Clinic tackles important public policy issues via detailed research and analysis. In 2014, the Clinic prepared and published Analyzing the Legal Toolbox for Sea Level Rise Adaptation in Delaware: Options and Challenges for Regulators, Policymakers, Property Owners and the Public to provide a comprehensive review of legal tools that could be used in a sea level rise adaptation strategy at the local, county, and state levels in Delaware.
- Public Comment and Participation. The Clinic assists clients in preparing written comments on pending permit applications and renewals, as well as presenting comments and testimony at public hearings.
- Strategy Analysis and Development. The Clinic assists clients in analyzing the legal issues that may arise from a particular situation and developing strategies for responding through litigation, negotiation, and/or political persuasion. The Widener Environmental Help Line can provide advice and preparation for self-representation for Pennsylvania citizens confronting environmental problems, as well as representation by the Clinic.
- Educational Program Development and Outreach. The Clinic assists clients in developing educational programs. For example, in 2014, the Clinic conducted public workshops in connection with its Sea Level Rise Adapation project in Delaware. In 2008, the Clinic developed and presented a program on regulation of stormwater discharges from construction sites. In addition, the Clinic generates Citizen’s Guides to legal issues as part of its Help Line mission.
For a sampling of the types of representations handled by the Clinic, see the Clinic News archive on the Clinic Newsletter page.
In the course of zealously representing Clinic Clients, Student Attorneys learn by doing. Whether communicating with Clients, formulating and researching legal strategies, drafting pleadings, briefs, or legal analyses, watching and talking with the Clinic Director during the course of the representation, or observing proceedings (including an annual trip to observe arguments before the United States Supreme Court), Clinic Student Attorneys get to put the theory they learned from their other classes into use in concrete situations that help reduce adverse environmental impacts while learning skills that will be useful after graduation.
Learn More-Explore the Site
This portion of the Environmental Law Center website offers a treasure trove of information about the Clinic. Learn more about Clinic Director Ken Kristl on the Director’s Office page. For students considering the Clinic or environmental law in general, the For Students page provides important information about the Clinic and what you can gain from working as a Student Attorney. Hear from former Student Attorneys about their experiences on the Video Testimonials page, and read about some of the work Student Attorneys have done by reading past issues of the Clinic News on the Clinic Newsletter page. For prospective and current Clinic Clients, the For Clients page provides resources to help you decide how the Clinic may be able to help you. Explore–and learn more.
This website contains only general information. It is not an attorney-client communication, is not intended to provide legal advice or assistance or to solicit or create an attorney-client relationship, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic and the reader. You should consult a lawyer about your specific circumstances.