Environmental law is a type of legal practice where the main focus is human impact on the environment. It entails creating and signing treaties, making sure companies are following customs, and ensuring that certain laws and guidelines are practiced for the overall benefit of the environment. You may want to get into environmental law because you want to make a huge difference in the world, or you want to get into a legal career that will give you a sense of purpose. Before you jump into this type of legal work, learn what you can expect to do on a daily basis.
Working in environmental law is very competitive, and there are often more environmental law attorneys than there are paying legal cases to go around. For this reason, much of your career will likely be spen doing volunteer work. Many people who want to get into protecting the environment find that volunteer work for legal aid helps them not only find out if their passion really is in protecting the planet, it aids them in getting solid work with companies in the future. Expect a lot of volunteer work when you first start getting your feet wet in practicing this type of law.
The cases you can expect
Most of your cases will be on an individual basis, working with companies who need to get approved for certain equipment, helping corporations clear their name when they have been involved in the media over pollution, and assistance in court for reporting spills and other environmental offenses. Very rarely will you land a large case that has a huge impact on making that world difference you are probably hoping for (think: Erin Brockovich), but you may get the opportunity to help businesses stay in compliance with local and national environmental laws.
How to get paid work
The reality is, most people who want assistance with actually protecting the environment either don't have the power or the resources to get their voices heard on their own. The work you will do will be largely on a pro bono basis, and money you do make will be donated by facilities who are helping a positive cause. You can up your chances of landing paying work by volunteering for non-governmental agencies, legal aid, and even in your local community as you get your name out there and prove your dedication to various causes. This way, when paying work is available, you are the environmental law attorney that people will turn to first.
Working in environmental law is a very important legal endeavor that must not be taken lightly. Since this is a career where you will often find yourself working on small cases at a time, you need to make sure you do a lot of volunteering to help grab the attention of environmentalists and companies who need lawyers like you who will help them make a positive impact on the world. Talk to other experts like Moore Smith Buxton & Turcke-Chartered for more information.