Vermont Law School Selected by National Wildlife Federation to Partner on Environmental Advocacy Clinic

VLS and NWF Partnership

Starting this fall, the Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law School will serve as legal counsel to National Wildlife Federation in its high impact litigation and policy advocacy, institutionalizing a powerful partnership to protect wildlife, ecosystems and public health, while training the next generation of conservation advocates and attorneys. 

Formerly known as the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, the Environmental Advocacy Clinic will continue as Vermont Law School’s in-house clinic that operates as a public interest law office, teaching students how to be lawyers by representing clients in need. Clinical experience helps students become well-rounded, skilled professionals who can develop arguments and claims from the ground up, explore strategies and options, and communicate effectively with clients, courts, agency officials, scientific experts, affected communities and opposing parties.

“The National Wildlife Federation is an iconic figure in the United States. National Wildlife Federation’s national scope and deep history of natural resource conservation make it the perfect NGO partner for our Environmental Advocacy Clinic,” explains Jennifer Rushlow, Associate Dean for Environmental Programs at Vermont Law School. “By representing NWF, our students will co-pilot key policy and environmental outcomes across the country.”

The first case that the Vermont Law School Environmental Advocacy Clinic is working on is a legal challenge to the destructive Pebble Mine, a proposed massive copper and gold mine that threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska, the world’s most productive wild salmon fishery. The Environmental Protection Agency illegally withdrew a proposed determination that would have effectively blocked the hazardous Pebble Mine. The lawsuit is the first where the Vermont Law School Environmental Advocacy Clinic will represent the National Wildlife Federation through the new partnership.

National Wildlife Federation’s Legal Advocacy Director, Jim Murphy, will also serve as Director of the Environmental Advocacy Clinic. “This exciting partnership will strengthen the National Wildlife Federation’s legal capacity to address the wildlife crisis and ensure our bedrock environmental laws are applied and enforced to protect habitat, people, and vulnerable communities,” Murphy said.  “Whether it is protecting America’s most treasured places like the rich salmon fisheries of the Bristol Bay, advancing responsible stewardship of our public and working lands, or protecting our most vulnerable communities, this partnership will help the National Wildlife Federation and its 52 state and territorial affiliates ensure our wildlife and natural resources endure for future generations. We welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the nation’s premier environmental law school and the leading legal minds at Vermont Law School.”

“This partnership brings together the nation’s foremost wildlife conservation organization and premier environmental law program to confront the profound environmental challenges facing the U.S. and the world,” said Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law and Senior Counsel in the Environmental Advocacy Clinic at Vermont Law School.