University at Buffalo launches environmental LL.M.

The University at Buffalo School of Law has created a new Environmental Law LL.M. It is designed to prepare the next generation of global leaders in environmental scholarship, research and public policy.

The program offers traditional classroom study, experiential learning opportunities and one-on-one academic advising. 

The program is co-directed by Kim Diana Connolly, professor of law and vice dean for advocacy and experiential education, and Jessica Owley, professor of law.

“Whether advocating the position of a public interest group, a corporate client, a government agency or a private citizen, almost every area of legal practice today touches upon some aspect of environmental law,” Owley said. “At a global level, critically important issues such as climate change, sustainability and transnational pollution require an understanding of environmental law and policy.”

Students are required to take a minimum of 24 credits of coursework on topics including pollution control, greening Buffalo, land use, climate change law and policy, historic preservation law and international environmental law.

The program includes a seminar and large research project. Students are required to complete a clinic, practicum or externship where they will directly with clients on real environmental disputes in order to prepare them for practice.

One student has received the degree so far. Benjamin E. Wisniewski is an associate at the Buffalo law firm of Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, and completed the LL.M. in 2017.

“Buffalo is the perfect setting for the Environmental Law LLM program,” he said. “From nature's majesty in Niagara Falls, to the cautionary tale of Love Canal, I cannot think of a better setting to educate new environmental lawyers. Beyond its location, I am confident the curriculum developed by the law school provides an ideal blend of practical instruction and academic exploration.” 

Among the school’s environmental law offerings are a concentration for J.D. students; the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic; and the Buffalo Environmental Law Journal. The law school faculty includes specialists in wetlands law and policy; international environmental law; the transnational governance of forests, animals and biodiversity; local environmental law; and conservation.

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