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Enviromental and Natural Resource Law Certificate

Environmental and Natural Resource Law Certificate

Tiber Dam in Northcentral Montana Photo by Dean Hellinger (2009)The Certificate Program is designed for law students who wish to acquire an in-depth knowledge of environmental and natural resources law and who are willing to commit the time and effort necessary to achieve a level of specialization in their legal education. The Certificate Program provides students the opportunity to graduate from law school with a credential recognizing their concentration and accomplishment in these two fields. Because we believe specialization in law school should not come at the expense of a well-rounded legal education, we require students in the Certificate Program to complete 95 hours compared to 90 credit hours for students outside the Certificate Program. In most cases, this additional credit load can be completed within the normal three academic years of law school.

Upon successful completion of the certificate program, the certificate is noted officially on the student's transcript.

If you wish to pursue a certificate program, you must notify the Associate Dean of the School of Law as soon as you decide to do so, but in no case later than the beginning of your second year of law school.

Environmental and Natural Resource Law Certificate Requirements:

  1. Earn a total of 95 credits (five credits more than required for the J.D.)
  2. Take the following courses:
  3. Take five credits from the following certificate elective courses:
Take at least four credits from the following clinical and skills courses:

Co-Curricular OpportunitiesSuccessfully complete the advanced writing requirement in an area addressing an environmental or natural resources topic. To assure that a Third-Year Writing Assignment satisfies this requirement, the student must receive approval of the proposal by the Associate Dean's designate. The Associate Dean's designate is to review the writing topic and the final writing of every certificate program student.

The School publishes the Public Land and Resources Law Review, one of the nation's oldest law reviews dedicated to natural resource topics. Students, who are selected through an anonymous writing competition and receive course credit, serve as the editors and staff for the PLRLR and often have articles published in the journal. The PLRLR holds an annual conference on an environmental/resource topic. The editors and staff select the topic, arrange for the speakers and manage the entire conference.

Rafting one of Montana's many rivers Photo by Dean Hellinger (2009)The Law School also competes in the National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition held in New York each year. Students for the national team are selected through a competitive process and undertake a rigorous program that includes writing a court brief and presenting oral arguments.

Many law students interested in environmental/resource issues belong to the Environmental Law Group. This student-run organization sponsors speakers on topics ranging from careers in environmental law to pressing environmental issues of the day. The group also sponsors field trips—both educational (for example, to the site of a proposed mine) and recreational (river float trips and picnics).

Opportunities for Graduates

With a focus on environmental and resource law, graduates can pursue a variety of career paths. Our graduates hold positions with the federal government in Washington, D.C. and with the Montana state government. Other graduates hold environmental positions with public interest organizations. Several of our graduates serve as environmental counsel to Indian tribes in Montana and elsewhere. Still other graduates have pursued private sector employment in law firms and in industry. Every sector of legal employment offers environmental work and jobs exist everywhere from small towns in Montana to the nation's largest cities.