The Law School Magazine The New York University School of Law

Sub Post

Clean Air Litigation

Alumni Perspectives

Printer Friendly Version

Eric Albert (’02)

This Law School offers an unparalleled opportunity for students to work with professors on matters of tremendous importance. As a first-year student, I was fortunate to be able to assist Professor (now Dean) Richard Revesz in writing an amicus brief for a consortium of environmental advocacy organizations in the U.S. Supreme Court case of American Trucking Associations v. E.P.A. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the case primarily because the D.C. Circuit, in overturning the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1997 Clean Air Act rule-making, had revived the nondelegation doctrine for the first time in more than 60 years. If the D.C. Circuit’s ruling had been affirmed, it would have had devastating consequences for all manner of environmental, health, and safety regulations. The chance to work on an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case, let alone one of such importance, is one few law schools can offer their students. Moreover, although my role was primarily that of a research assistant, Professor Revesz treated me as a collaborator, discussing strategic and tactical decisions with me and even including portions of my research memos in the final brief. I came to NYU School of Law knowing that I wanted to pursue a career in environmental litigation, and even as a student I felt that my career had already begun.

Following the end of my judicial clerkship in August 2003, I began a two-year fellowship in environmental litigation with the Institute for Public Representation (IPR) at the Georgetown University Law Center. As an IPR fellow, I represent clients of Georgetown’s Environmental Litigation Clinic in state and federal court and administrative bodies on a wide range of environmental issues. This is exactly the kind of work I dreamed about doing before I came to the Law School, and the education I received at NYU School of Law made it possible.

Vickie Patton (’90)

When the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the most important Clean Air Act controversy in a generation, Environmental Defense (formerly Environmental Defense Fund) turned to Dean Revesz. Despite a fully committed summer of academic activities, the dean filed not one but two amici curiae briefs in two closely related cases before the high court.The briefs were submitted on behalf of Environmental Defense and a coalition of public health and environmental organizations. In a unanimous opinion, the Court affirmed the integrity of the Clean Air Act and reversed a D.C. Circuit opinion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted unconstitutionally in establishing national health-based air-quality standards protecting millions of Americans.

It was not surprising that we turned to Dean Revesz when the Clean Air Act was hanging law and policy, I had timidly knocked on his door to ask whether he would be my faculty adviser on an environmental law paper. And, it was the dean’s Environmental Law course, which concentrated on the Clean Air Act, that sparked my interest in clean air issues. Now, while spearheading Environmental Defense’s national and regional clean air programs, I routinely turn to NYU School of Law professors, like Professor Stewart and Dean Revesz, for guidance. I continue to knock because I know that NYU School of Law is a vibrant center of the nation’s leading environmental law scholars, and because I am certain that the dean will help even the most timid law student interested in an environmental law career.