Why We Chose Environmental Law

The following post was written by 1L, Logan Hagerty. Logan is an avid member of the BC Environmental Law Society (ELS) and serves as a 1L Representative. ELS is the umbrella organization for the BC Land & Environmental Law program. We lead research, service, professional training, social events, and more. As President of ELS, it has been a pleasure working with the new students like Logan who share my commitment to environmental law. -Fiona Maguire

I read dozens of faculty bios and course listings when applying to law school. I keyword-searched more variations of “environmental law” than I thought was possible: “Land,” “energy,” “property,” “environmental justice,” and “natural resources,” just to name a few. You guessed it – I came to law school with an interest in environmental law. 

Professor Plater’s bio (and bow tie!) stood out on the BC Law website. I’d struck a gold mine. I explored the BC site some more, finding pictures from the Environmental Law Society (ELS) Barbeque and Winter Weekend events. I was hooked! (I also attended both of these events). Now I view the environmental law program as more than a “gold mine.” The program is an old-growth forest; it offers rich, deep-rooted connections, support, and development. 

ELS recently hosted Part 1 of their annual Winter Weekend conference. At this event, guest speakers shared their experiences in litigating environmental crime, ESG and sustainable investing, and environmental corporate compliance. ELS Vice President, Abigail Lafontan, one of the event organizers, says:

ELS’s Winter Weekend event is an outstanding example of the importance of the environmental law program at BC Law. Part 1 of Winter Weekend gave students access to experts in the field so they could learn beyond the textbook and the classroom. Many BC Law students chose to spend their Saturday learning from and networking with the visiting lecturers who spoke about important environmental issues that are so new, there hasn’t been time to publish about them. This is what the Environmental Law Society is all about – providing dedicated students access to guest speakers, alumni, and other environmental professionals, so students can engage with a rapidly growing and immensely important field of law.

Part 2 of Winter Weekend is tentatively scheduled to be held in Provincetown, Masassachuetts, with a continuing focus on environmental compliance. Thus far almost forty students are registered to attend, many for the first time since joining BC Law. 

Hunter Cisiewski, ELS Section 1 Rep, explains why BC Law was the right choice for him:

Researching Professor Plater’s accomplishments and BC Law’s environmental program was a big part of why I chose to come to BC in the first place. ELS was the first association I signed up to join, and after attending the ELS BBQ, I knew I made the right choice coming here. The Environmental Law Program and the faculty involved are all incredibly knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate, and there are so many opportunities for us students to gain useful and practical information for our future careers as environmental lawyers.

These practical opportunities came early. ELS members led by Professor Plater drafted comments for the delisting of the Snail Darter from the USFWS’s list of endangered species. I’m grateful to have worked—albeit briefly—with an environmental professor my 1L year. I know I will find equally rewarding opportunities next year. Becca Horton, ELS Section 2 Rep, shares a similar sentiment:

I have been so grateful for the opportunities to get involved with the Environmental Law Society during my first semester in law school – from the introductory cookout to the Regulatory Skills Workshop and club meetings, I have already met so many wonderful classmates and professionals in this community and learned more about environmental law at BC. I am looking forward to taking environmental law classes during my 2L year and continuing to stay involved in this space, because it is a unique and valuable program.

Our 1L class is enormous. There are currently eight 1L Representatives in ELS, more than ever before! The experiences shared during the speeches for the contested seats of ELS Section Reps were inspiring; I am impressed with my class’s passion for environmental law. We look forward to advocating for the environment and community in diverse ways. For many, this advocacy starts with the classroom experience. Hunter Cisiewski, Section 1 rep, adds:

There are so many important and interesting courses to take, but I am especially looking forward to my 3L year where I can take toxics law.

I hope you’re convinced ELS and the environmental program are wonderful. I look forward to meeting you at future meetings, classes, trips, and hikes!

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