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Turner Environmental Law Clinic

Turner Clinic students

The Turner Environmental Law Clinic provides important pro bono legal representation to individuals, community groups, and nonprofit organizations that seek to protect and restore the natural environment for the benefit of the public. Through its work, the clinic offers students an intense, hands-on introduction to environmental law and trains the next generation of environmental attorneys.

An Integral Legal Resource and an Important Experience for Students

Protecting the Environment: Each year, the Turner Environmental Law Clinic provides over 4,000 hours of pro bono legal representation. The key matters occupying our current docket – fighting for clean and sustainable energy; promoting sustainable agriculture and urban farming; and protecting our water, natural resources, and coastal communities—are among the most critical issues for our state, region, and nation, especially in light of climate change’s effects.   

Building our Legal Community:  The Clinic strives to instill a cooperative and efficient mode of interaction among the region’s public interest environmental law community through sponsoring monthly meetings for Georgia’s Public Interest Environmental Law Coalition.      

Educating our Students:  The Clinic’s students benefit from immersion in real world, complex environmental representations.  Not only are they emerging with newfound expertise and confidence, but they understand from firsthand experience the importance of providing public interest environmental representations.

The Turner Environmental Law Clinic focuses on fighting for clean and sustainable energy; promoting sustainable agriculture and urban farming; and protecting our water, natural resources, and coastal communities.

In this work, we represent and partner with many incredible environmental organizations (see "Clients" section).

We are pleased that our work has garnered national attention, appearing in hundreds of news stories through print media, broadcast news, and the Internet. We hope to continue to bring attention to the many critical environmental issues facing our state, region, and nation.

“As a second-year law student, I traveled to Miami to participate in a nuclear power plant permitting proceeding before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This experience helped me develop the skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to become a more effective advocate.”

Carter Thurman 12L

In an effort to promote clean and sustainable energy, on behalf of over 35 environmental organizations, the Clinic has successfully challenged decisions regarding the safety and environmental risks posed by nuclear power generation and the resultant nuclear waste.

As a result of our work and the work of our co-counsel:

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reconsidering several of its regulations regarding nuclear waste, including its Waste Confidence Decision. The agency has stopped issuing all nuclear power licenses until it reconsiders the environmental impacts of long-term storage of nuclear waste at reactor sites across the country.
  • Florida Power and Light is investigating the environmental impacts of injecting wastewater into aquifers under the Turkey Point nuclear site in Homestead, Florida.
  • The Southern Nuclear Operating Company abandoned its ill-advised plan to dredge over 100 miles of the Savannah River to ship nuclear reactor components to the Plant Vogtle nuclear site in Waynesboro, Georgia.
  • The Department of Energy released thousands of pages of documents regarding the $8.3 billion loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle, giving Congress, the media, and members of the public the information they need to assess the terms and conditions of the loans.

Together with the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Clinic has also investigated the benefits of and hurdles to increasing solar power generation in Georgia.

“During my time with the Turner Clinic, I had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of an amendment to the Atlanta Zoning Code to provide for urban agriculture in the City of Atlanta. I then collaborated with Professor Goldstein and a team of partners and clients to build support for the amendment from government officials and communities. Working on such a tangible advocacy project has been the highlight of my law school experience.”

Jonathan Goreham 13L

In cities, local food production eliminates food deserts, provides economic opportunities to underserved communities, creates green space, and increases property values. Across the country, sustainable agriculture practices also protect our land, water, and animals. The Clinic has promoted sustainable agriculture and local food production through a wide range of activities:

  • Together with Georgia Organics and the Atlanta Local Food Initiative, assisted the City of Atlanta in passing a zoning amendment that makes Atlanta one of the most permissive cities of urban agriculture practices in the country. Atlanta is now poised to be a leader in local food production.
  • Published a sixteen-city survey of urban agriculture practices across the country.
  • Partnered with Atlanta Farm-to-School to develop a comprehensive farm-to-school proposal for Atlanta Public Schools.
  • On behalf of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, prepared comments that convinced the Food and Drug Administration to withdraw and reissue its proposed regulation governing the growing and harvesting of produce.
  • Partnered with Friends of the Earth in preparing a report detailing the prevalence of bee-toxic pesticides on plants deceptively labeled as bee-friendly.

Urban Agriculture Survey

Download the Urban Agriculture Survey » 

“The Turner Clinic was the most enjoyable part of my law school experience and solidified my interest in practicing environmental law. The work was always challenging and helped me to develop much greater confidence in my abilities as an advocate, especially my legal writing. It was a truly unique opportunity to gain hands on experience working on complex litigation with national policy implications while still in law school.”

Ross Phillips 12L

In an effort to protect our water, natural resources, and coastal communities, the Clinic has tackled a wide-range of matters.

  • Together with Southern Environmental Law Center and on behalf of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Savannah Riverkeeper, filed comments on a permit to withdraw over 70 millions of gallons of water per day from the imperiled Savannah River to cool a power plant.
  • Partnered with local watershed protection organizations to monitor new reservoir proposals in Georgia.
  • Represented the Harris Neck Land Trust in an environmental justice-linked representation regarding a national wildlife refuge.
  • Partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council to prepare a report for Congress that highlights the incredible outcomes the National Environmental Policy Act has helped achieve and the disasters it has helped avoid.
  • Answered various questions related to conservation easements for The Nature Conservancy.

“The Turner Environmental Law Clinic represents one of our best community partnerships. They worked with us to develop and pass a farmer’s market policy that has increased access to fresh food for the residents of Atlanta, and economic opportunities for local farmers. Their students have become increasingly involved in other aspects of our issues and organization, offering their expertise in many ways. What a vital social service!” —Jennifer L. Owens, former Advocacy Director, Georgia Organics

"For years the Turner Environmental Law Clinic has been an invaluable resource not only to our organization but to concerned citizens and organizations across the Southeast. The Clinic's professionalism, expertise, commitment to protect our environment and the public health and safety of communities and passion for this challenging work is unparalleled. It's hard to imagine being able to take on these important issues without them." — Sara Barczak, Program Director for High Risk Energy, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

“In my six-plus years of collaborating with Turner Environmental Law Clinic, I have found it to be an invaluable and extraordinary institution that gives me great hope for the future of environmental protection. I can’t think of a better experience for an aspiring environmental lawyer or a better way to develop a strong public interest environmental bar of the future.” —Diane Curran, partner, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg, Eisenberg LLP

The Turner Environmental Law Clinic works with and represents numerous individuals, community groups, and nonprofit organizations.  We’re proud of the relationships we’ve built, and we’re excited to work together to protect the environment.  Some of our clients and partners include:

  • Alliance to Halt Fermi 3
  • Atlanta Farm to School
  • Atlanta Local Food Initiative
  • Beyond Nuclear
  • Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
  • Center for a Sustainable Coast
  • Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
  • Citizens Allied for Safe Energy
  • Citizens Environmental Coalition
  • Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2
  • Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes
  • Don’t Waste Michigan
  • Ecology Party of Florida
  • Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives
  • Everglades Law Center
  • Friends of the Coast
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Georgia Organics
  • GreenLaw
  • Green States Solutions
  • Harris Neck Land Trust
  • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
  • Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • NC WARN
  • Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force
  • New England Coalition
  • Northwest Environmental Advocates
  • Nuclear Energy Information Service
  • Nuclear Information and Resource Service
  • Nuclear Watch South
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Public Health and Sustainable Energy
  • Riverkeeper
  • San Clemente Green
  • San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
  • San Onofre Safety
  • Savannah Riverkeeper
  • SEED Coalition
  • Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign
  • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
  • Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Taxpayers for Common Sense
  • The Nature Conservancy

The clinic's Advisory Board includes prominent members of the bar and academia.

Board Members
Ashten Bailey 11L, Staff Attorney, GreenLaw
William Buzbee, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School
Juliet Cohen, General Counsel, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Sam DeSimone, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, EarthLink
Richard A. Horder, Partner, Kazmarek, Geiger & Laseter LLP
Ciannat Howett, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, Emory University
Kelly Jordan, Founder and President, Point Center Corporation
Jonathan Nash, Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
Janette Pratt, Retired Administrative Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
Bill Sapp, Senior Attorney,  Southern Environmental Law Center
Rutherford Seydel, Partner, Davis, Pickren, Seydel & Sneed LLP
Andrew M. Thompson 97L, Partner, Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP

Mindy Goldstein, Director

Director, Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Interim Director, Environment and Natural Resources Program

Faculty Profile »

Richard A. Horder

Adjunct Professor of Practice, Turner Environmental Law Clinic and Adjunct Professor, Environmental Advocacy

Faculty Profile »

Jillian Kysor

Fellow, Turner Environmental Law Clinic

Jillian is excited to join the Turner Environmental Law Clinic for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years. Last year, Jillian moved to Oakland, California to pursue a career in environmental law and justice. While practicing at Communities for a Better Environment, Jillian had the opportunity to work on issues involving the Clean Air Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, local zoning and planning regulations, and challenges to decisions by the California Public Utilities Commission. She also worked at a small firm practicing plaintiff's employment litigation.

Jillian graduated from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law in May 2012, with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. During her third year of law school, she participated in DU's Environmental Law Clinic, working on cases involving the Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and the Clean Water Act. In law school, Jillian also interned for several judges including Judge Tymkovich at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Arguello at the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, and Judge Hood at the Colorado State District Court in Denver, Colorado.

The Turner Environmental Law Clinic offers intellectually stimulating, professionally challenging, and personally rewarding instruction by granting Emory Law School students practical training in the practice of environmental law. Students enrolled in the Clinic:

  • Take part in all aspects of complex civil litigation – drafting legal memoranda, briefs, and pleadings, and participating in client meetings, expert interviews, discovery, negotiations, and the development of case strategy.
  • Present arguments at administrative hearings.
  • Prepare transactional documents.
  • Work on legislative and policy issues at the local, state, and national levels.

Throughout the course of this work, students interact with clients, community groups, government personnel, experts, co-counsel, and opposing counsel.

Enrollment and Credits

The Clinic enrolls up to ten second-year and third-year students each semester. Student-attorneys work a minimum of 150 hours in the Clinic and receive three credit hours towards graduation. Students may work in the Clinic for two semesters.

Prerequisites or Co-requisites

Admission into the Clinic is competitive. To apply, students must have taken or be currently enrolled in the two-credit Environmental Advocacy course offered every fall. Preference is given to students who also have taken or are currently enrolled in Environmental Law, Administrative Law, and other environmental or regulatory courses.

The Application Process

An application to the Clinic consists of an online form in Symplicity and the following uploaded documents: cover letter, resume, writing sample, and law school transcript. We schedule interviews after we receive and review all applications.

We are not currently accepting applications.