Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program
Emory's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program provides students a comprehensive educational experience in which to study a wide array of environmental law issues.

Building on Emory’s strong faculty and its location in the dynamic business and governmental center of Atlanta, the program offers students classroom, skills-training, and extracurricular opportunities, making it one of the nation’s strongest programs in environmental law. The program boasts more than a dozen course offerings, four full-time faculty members, outstanding adjunct professors from law firms and federal agencies, eight field placements, and the Turner Environmental Law Clinic. In addition to the core curriculum, the program also covers recent environmental issues such as conservation, environmental justice, urban sprawl, federalism and devolution, international and comparative environmental issues, and biodiversity.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program provides students knowledge and skills that are applicable across many practice settings, as evidenced by our alumni, who work in prominent law firms, state and federal agencies, and public interest organizations across the country. The program provides a thorough and first-rate education that prepares students for a variety of careers in environmental law and policy.

Environmental Law Externships

Second- and third-year students are encouraged to integrate substantive learning with the practice of environmental law through the externship program. In the program, students receive three credit hours for 120 hours of work during the course of a semester with an organization, business, or government agency in Atlanta. Students may earn as many as six credit hours in externships during their tenure in law school. This work allows students to develop their legal skills and to further their legal education in real-world situations.

The following placements are available in the environmental field.

Public Interest

  • Georgia Center for Law in the Public Interest
  • Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

Government

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Federal Aviation Administration—Hazardous Materials
  • Georgia Department of Law—Environmental Division
  • Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
  • US Environmental Protection Agency, Region IV

Interdisciplinary Opportunities

Emory Law offers joint degree programs and allows students to create ad hoc joint degree programs with Emory's graduate degree programs. In the environmental field, students may earn joint doctor of law (JD) and master of public health (MPH) degrees. Students also may take a limited number of classes in other departments of Emory University.

Environmental courses available in the Rollins School of Public Health 

  • Environmental and Occupational Hazards I & II
  • Environmental Processes
  • Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology
  • Occupational and Environmental Health Policy
  • Occupational and Environmental Toxicology
  • Perspective/Environmental Health
  • Public Health Impacts of War and Terrorism
  • Risk Assessment I & II
  • Water Pollution and Health

Courses in the undergraduate Department of Environmental Studies 

  • Ecological Economics
  • Energy, Resources, and Environmental Change
  • Environmental Thought: Philosophy and Issues
  • Global Environment
  • Human and Natural Ecology
  • Hydrology
  • Institutions and the Environment
  • Politics and the Environment

Student Organizations

Environmental Law Society (ELS)

The student-run Environmental Law and Conservation Society brings together students interested in environmental law and policy and organizes programs and projects such as lobbying, litigation, lectures, trips, curricula, newsletter, recycling, and energy conservation.

Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC)

EPIC is a student-run organization at Emory Law that seeks to provide opportunities for students to learn about and participate in public interest activities. The organization provides summer grants for students working in public interest positions. Grant recipients who have chosen to work in the environmental field have volunteered at the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, the Turner Environmental Law Clinic, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Ad Hoc Committee for Environmental Stewardship

The Emory Ad Hoc Committee for Environmental Stewardship consists of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are concerned about environmental protection, restoration, and sustainability at Emory.

ECOSEAC

Emory’s chapter for the Student Environmental Action Coalition educates both Emory and the local community about the importance of the environment and the severity of ecological problems that face our society. ECOSEAC concentrates its efforts to the metro Atlanta area.

Environmental Law Curriculum

Core Courses

Administrative Law (3 hours): A study of the legal constraints on and nature of administrative agencies. Topics include the constitutional limits on Congress’ power to delegate legislative and judicial power to agencies; procedures imposed on agency adjudication and rulemaking by the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act and other statutes; the scope of judicial review of agency decisions, including the methods by which courts restrict and control agency discretion; and the limitations on the availability of judicial review.

Environmental Law (4 hours): An exploration of the theory and policy of environmental protection. Covers all major federal environmental legislation, including NEPA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA, and RCRA.

Land-Use Regulation (3 hours): A study of land-use regulation and the available legal vehicles for pursuing constitutional, statutory, and regulatory claims in the land-use context.

Natural Resources (3 hours): A study of how resources such as timber, fish, minerals, forests, water, coastlands, and indigenous plants and animals are handled, regulated, used, and distributed.

Property (4 hours): An introduction to alternative theories of property rights. Topics include the division of property rights over time (common law estates, landlord-tenant law); concurrent ownership; private land-use controls (easements, covenants); and public land-use controls (eminent domain, zoning).

State and Local Government (3 hours): An explanation of the essential legal structure of state and local governments. Topics include state constitutional law; the constitutional and statutory powers of counties and municipalities; legislation; the balance of state law against local government law; the tensions between urban and rural governments; the overall scope of the police powers; and revenue authority. The course also considers special-purpose local government entities such as school districts and development authorities. 

Advanced Courses and Seminars 

Climate Change and the Law (2 hours): This seminar-style course will explore the legal developments regarding climate change issues. The course will begin with background on climate change, discuss early international agreements, and move on to recent case developments, current options for regulating greenhouse gases, current litigation regarding climate change, and future trends.

Energy Law (2 hours): The course examines state, federal, and international regulation of energy markets and the development, production, and distribution of energy. The course will emphasize the interrelation of energy policy with other legal and economic policy areas.

Environmental Advocacy Workshop (2 hours): The Environmental Advocacy Workshop includes reading assignments, written exercises, discussions, and simulations with an emphasis on client representation. The course develops student’s abilities to function as successful environmental advocates in the context of client interviews, administrative proceedings, negotiations, and litigation. Other issues covered include environmental justice and advocating environmental protection through the legislative process.

Federalism and Devolution (2 hours): An exploration of law, politics, and scholarly literature that focuses on the intersection of the federalism doctrine and the “devolution revolution.” Seminar emphasis varies in relation to recent political events and student interest.

International Environmental Law (3 hours)

Law of International Common Spaces (2 hours): An examination of the international community’s management of common resources, including the law of the sea, of airspace and outer space, of polar regions, and of the global environment.

Regulatory Reform (3 hours): An exploration of the ongoing debate over regulatory reform, using administrative and statutory materials as well as scholarly readings from law journals and material from other disciplines.

Transactional Environmental Law (2 hours): A study of the range of environmental issues that typically arise in different types of business transactions. Types of transactions studied include stock purchases, assets purchases, leases, and pure property transfers. The course concludes with a negotiation exercise based on real-world transaction.

Water Resources Law and Litigation (3 hours): Exploration of themes common in the practice of environmental and natural resources law, focusing on water as a resource, water quality protection, and pollution control. Topics include the federal Clean Water Act, public rights and enforcement structures, water allocation, drinking water, preserving coastal waters, and wetland protection programs. This course includes practice-oriented exercises and problems.

Enrichment Courses

  • Admiralty Law (3 hours)
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution (3 hours)
  • International Law (3 hours)
  • Law of International Institutions (2 hours)
  • Negotiations (2 hours)
  • Pretrial Litigation (4 hours)

Mindy Goldstein
Mindy Goldstein
Director, Turner Environmental Law Clinic

Mindy Goldstein joined the Turner Environmental Law Clinic in 2008. She supervises students on litigation, transactional, and policy matters related to sustainable energy and climate change, access to information, urban agriculture and farming, water quality, land use, and endangered species protection. Goldstein also serves as co-chair of the Georgia Public Interest Environmental Law Coalition and as a member of PATH Foundation’s special events and public relations committee.

Before joining the clinic, Goldstein was an associate at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.  While there, she represented clients in real estate and land use transactions. Goldstein graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland School of Law, where she received a concentration in environmental law and worked in the environmental law clinic.

Richard Horder
Richard A. Horder
Adjunct Professor of Practice, Turner Environmental Law Clinic
Adjunct Professor, Environmental Advocacy

Rick Horder, partner in the Atlanta environmental law firm of Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter, serves as the Turner Environmental Law Clinic adjunct professor of practice. He also serves as an Emory Law adjunct professor, teaching Environmental Advocacy. Horder received his BA and JD from the University of Florida, an LLM from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an MBA from Georgia State University.

He served as an assistant US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia in its civil division from 1974-1977, where he represented the US Environmental Protection Agency, among other federal agencies. He joined Georgia Pacific as regional counsel when it moved to Atlanta in 1978. He later served as associate general counsel, responsible for environmental compliance and environmental and toxic tort litigation corporate-wide and supervised the corporate and business matters of the chemical division.

In 1989, he joined Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Atlanta as a partner, where he was chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group for 20 years. He joined Kazmarek Geiger & Laseter in 2010. Horder is former chair of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, which is based at Zoo Atlanta.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
Professor of Law

Jonathan Nash specializes in environmental law, property law, civil procedure, and the study of courts and judges. Before coming to Emory Law, Professor Nash served as the Robert C. Cudd Professor of Environmental Law at Tulane University. He teaches courses in environmental law, international environmental law, property, land use, civil procedure, and law and economics. Most recently, Professor Nash was a visiting professor at University of Chicago Law School, and he has served as a visiting professor at Hofstra University School of Law and a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School. Professor Nash is a prolific scholar who publishes in many top-ranked law journals.

Prior to teaching, Professor Nash was a law clerk to the Honorable Donald Stuart Russell of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and to the Honorable Nina Gershon, then Chief Magistrate Judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Professor Nash also worked as an attorney in New York.