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Environmental Law Jobs: An Overview of the Role

Are environmental law jobs a field worth pursuing in the legal world? Use our overview as a starting point.

The impact of human activity on the environment has become of increasing concern over the last few decades and to try and limit this, a range of laws have been brought into force. These can affect a variety of organizations from constructions companies to factories, waste disposal businesses and a range of other industries. This has resulted in a rise in the number of environmental law jobs available, and this can therefore be an area of specialization to consider for those that study law.

Education and Training Requirements

The education requirements for a lawyer generally require at least 7 years of study. This typically begins with a 4 year undergraduate degree. Although there are no specific pre-law studies, for those that are planning to apply for environmental law jobs, a major in a subject associated with the environment can be the best option. This includes subjects such as environmental science, agriculture science, biology or natural resource management. On completion of this, moving forward to law school typically involves taking the Law School Acceptance Test (LSAT), although other factors such as undergraduate college and grades, as well as any work experience may be taken into consideration by a college for those applying. Acceptance to law school typically involves at least a further 3 years of study.

Colleges to Consider

For those looking to work in environmental law jobs, there are a few colleges that are considered to be a good choice. Some of these include Vermont Law School, Lewis and Clark Law School and New York University Law School. However, there are a number of colleges that have study programs suitable for a career in environmental law and finding one that suits your particular requirements and interests can take a little research. A starting point for this can be the Top Law Schools website.

Bar Exam

To practice law, it is a requirement to pass the state bar exam where you are planning to work. The exact requirements for this can vary from state to state, although many use the Multistate Bar Examination as part of this. While in some cases, those that have gained enough experience many be allowed to practice law in another state without taking further examination, in most cases lawyers that move to another location will have to take the bar exam for that state.

Nature of the Work and Employers

The work of environmental lawyers will typically depend on the career path they choose. There are a few different options available for those that want to work in environmental law jobs. Many work for government agencies and can have a role in developing environmental laws and be involved in enforcing the laws as required to protect the environment. Others can work for corporations that have to work in compliance with environmental laws and provide advice on how to do this, as well as defend any actions brought against a company. These can work directly for a company, although many environmental lawyers are employed by law firms and are hired by companies and organizations as required. Other employers can include advocacy and special interest organizations that have an interest in the environment, with environmental lawyers providing advice on the laws and regulations that may affect them.

Job Prospects

Environmental law is one of the fast growing areas in the profession. Many laws regarding the environment have been passed in recent times, and as concerns for this increase this will likely lead to further local, state and federal regulation. The need for environmental lawyers should therefore increase in coming years, and it can therefore be an excellent area of law to specialize in.


Lawyers generally enjoy lucrative salaries, although the actual amount can vary widely depending on factors such as employer, location and experience. However, even at the lower end of the pay scale, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that lawyers can expect a median salary of around $80,000. This can increase to well in excess of $100,000 for those in higher paying positions.

Working as a lawyer can be a lucrative career and there are a variety of specializations available. Environmental law jobs are one of these, and with the growing legislation affecting the environment, the prospects in this area of law should be excellent in the years to come. For this reason it is a specialization that those looking to enter the law profession should consider.

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