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Training Environmental and Land Use Lawyers for the New Millennium

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The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’s cautionary tale of how a myopic mentality that “business is business and business must grow” destroyed an idyllic land of truffula trees, brown barbaloots, and humming-fish, ends with the admonition:
UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
The environmental and land use program at NYU School of Law is seriously committed to training lawyers to help make things “get better.” Blessed with outstanding students who come to the Law School caring deeply about the environmental threats that face our nation and world, the Law School’s world-class faculty offers a rich array of foundational courses, specialized seminars, cutting-edge colloquia, and innovative clinical programs designed to equip those students with not only the will, but also the intellectual tools, problem-solving skills, and practical experience to tackle those threats. Under the umbrella of the Center on Environmental and Land Use Law and the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, J.D. and graduate students, post-graduate fellows, and an extraordinary collection of core faculty, affiliated faculty from other University departments and schools, global professors, and adjunct faculty from the top of the New York bar collaborate to produce path-breaking research and practical solutions to conundrums that besiege environmental and land use regulation. As the home of the Hauser Global Law School Program and its transformative approach to legal education for a globalized world, NYU School of Law provides unparalleled training for students to confront the challenges of environmental problems that know no jurisdictional boundaries.The depth, breadth, and strength of the Law School’s environmental and land use programs will splendidly equip a new generation of lawyers to forge and implement new tools to restore, preserve, and protect the environment fairly and efficiently.
Environmental and Land Use Law at New York University School of Law

How should the law mediate between claims that genetically modified organisms offer the promise of cheaper, better food for malnourished children while reducing dependence on polluting pesticides and herbicides, on the one hand, and charges that genetic modification poses the risk of far-reaching, irreversible ecological damage on the other? How should the World Trade Organization balance the demands of free trade against differing national views about the need for, and the appropriate tools to achieve, conservation of the world’s fisheries or endangered species? What value should be assigned to a life saved in the next generation by an environmental regulation that will impose significant near-term costs in order to secure environmental benefits decades later? What role do and should cultural values play in how nations (and within nations, local governments) choose among regulatory goals and instruments? How should undesirable land uses, and desirable amenities such as parks, be distributed among communities and neighborhoods? How can we best provide affordable housing to the poor? How can land use law be sufficiently local to reflect, and encourage, differences among communities while addressing impacts from development that cross local borders? What role do land use and housing regulations play in differences in the cost of building housing across cities and countries?

These are the kinds of problems that will confront our students upon graduation, and will be central to the work of environmental and land use lawyers in the 21st century. Solving such problems will require a far broader set of analytical and practical legal skills than sufficed for prior generations.Today’s environmental and land use lawyers must understand economic theory, be able to problem-solve within the sociological and political dynamics of different communities, be conversant in fields of law ranging from local government law to the law of the sea, be prepared to draw on diverse laws from nations and international organizations around the globe, and know enough to ask the right questions about an expert’s use of methodological tools ranging from regression analysis to biological markers.

NYU School of Law’s environmental and land use law program takes on those challenges. Its superb faculty and collaborative intellectual atmosphere produce innovative research and path-breaking theoretical advances. The Law School offers extraordinary opportunities for students to develop and apply their skills in both academic and practice settings through specialized seminars, interdisciplinary colloquia, state-of-the-art clinical programs, and internships and fellowships with governments and environmental organizations. Debate and inquiry are enriched by a vast assortment of symposia, speaker programs, roundtable and brown-bag lunch discussions, and lecture series addressing current environmental and land use issues.

The pages that follow detail the extensive and wide-ranging resources that NYU School of Law devotes to training our students to be leaders of the environmental and land use bar, and to be creative policy analysts and strategists.That commitment, unmatched by any of our peer schools, along with the dynamism and innovativeness of NYU School of Law’s approach to teaching, research, and problem-solving makes NYU School of Law’s environmental and land use program the best venue to study, learn, and develop practical experience to resolve the vexing environmental problems the coming years will present.

Faculty

The Law School’s core environmental and land use law faculty are widely recognized as among the most distinguished academics of their generations.The six full-time members of the faculty at the center of the program — Professors Vicki Been, Benedict Kingsbury, Michael Schill, Richard Stewart, and Katrina Wyman, along with Dean Richard Revesz — are national and international leaders in their fields.

Among them, they have published more than 35 books and hundreds of articles, many of which have been reprinted in the annual “best of” environmental and land use scholarship volume published by the Land Use and Environment Law Review. Their research and writing offer many of the most innovative ideas in environmental and land use law, both in the United States and internationally. The core faculty also are actively involved in law reform efforts on a wide variety of current policy issues, including climate change, the role of cost-benefit analysis in environmental regulation, “smart growth,” regulatory federalism, the use of economic incentives for environmental protection, “next-generation” approaches to environmental regulation, challenges to land use and environmental regulations as “takings” of developers’ property, and the regulation of genetically modified foods and crops. The faculty often appear as counsel or amici in prominent litigation over environmental and land use regulation, and frequently contribute to the public debate over environmental and land use policy through testimony to Congress and state legislatures, service on advisory committees, and membership on the boards of non-profit environmental and land use organizations.

The core faculty is augmented by several very talented full-time faculty members from other NYU departments, who offer courses and research opportunities in urban policy, state and local government law, environmental economics, law and science, and other fields that are closely related to environmental and land use law. The core faculty also is bolstered by a stellar array of adjunct professors— distinguished practitioners in the public and private sectors who teach a range of specialized courses to enrich the curriculum, and who serve as a valuable resource for students interested in careers in environmental law.

Vicki Been, Professor of Law; Director, Program on Land Use Law

Vicki Been has long been at the cutting edge of legal scholarship in the intersection of land use and environmental law. She currently is examining the increasing convergence of land use and environmental law, and the implications that convergence may have for judicial review of environmental regulations. She also is exploring how local land use “impact fees” can be used as environmental taxes to ensure that development fully internalizes the costs it imposes on the surrounding natural and built environment. She has written extensively about the effect the expropriation requirements contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement and a growing number of other bilateral and multilateral investment agreements may have on environmental and land use regulations. Been also is a leading authority on environmental justice. Her nationwide study of the demographic characteristics of communities asked to host undesirable land uses set the standard for empirical research about environmental discrimination. She is the co-author of one of the nation’s leading land use casebooks, Land Use Controls: Cases and Materials (with Robert Ellickson), and is currently completing Foundations of Property Law, a multidisciplinary reader for first–year property courses. Been teaches Property; Land Use Regulation; State and Local Government; and seminars on topics ranging from environmental justice to the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause. She co-teaches a Colloquium on the Law, Economics, and Politics of Urban Affairs with Professors Ellen and Schill.

David Bradford, Adjunct Professor of Law

David Bradford, a professor of economics and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University, visits NYU School of Law each year. Bradford has directed the Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Program at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His research has focused recently on greenhouse gas emissions trading and innovation in energy policy. As part of an interdisciplinary, decade-long research effort to understand and manage the global carbon cycle, for example, Bradford is developing a model to estimate the health changes caused by an incremental ton of NOx emissions from power plants in the northeastern United States, a first step toward assessing policy alternatives for NOx emissions. He also is exploring the implications that certain abrupt climate changes might have for global climate policy. At NYU School of Law, Bradford co-teaches the Tax Policy Colloquium, and serves as a valuable resource for Law School faculty and students interested in environmental and land use law.