Abrams Environmental Law Clinic

Real experience, making a difference

Students work on real environmental issues for real clients—community groups, advocacy organizations, concerned citizens—who need help advocating before a judge or regulator.

Class Spotlight

The Abrams Environmental Law clinic attempts to solve some of the most pressing environmental problems throughout Chicago, the State of Illinois, and the Great Lakes region. On behalf of clients, the clinic challenges those who pollute illegally, fights for stricter permits, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment. Through clinic participation, students learn substantive environmental law and procedures for addressing concerns through the courts or administrative tribunals. Students develop a number of core advocacy competencies, such as counseling clients, spotting issues, conducting factual investigations, performing practical legal research, advocating through written and oral communications, planning cases, managing time, and addressing ethical issues and dilemmas. In addition, students develop an appreciation for the range of strategic and tactical approaches that effective advocates use. Some matters will be best resolved in front of a judge, others in an adversarial hearing, others through face-to-face meetings with government officials, and others by putting public pressure on a polluter or administrative agency. Any given matter may require the use of one or more of these approaches simultaneously or sequentially, although in general, the clinic will deploy adversarial approaches to help achieve its clients’ objectives.

Students who want to learn more about the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic may contact Professor Templeton for more information.

Clinical Professor Mark N. Templeton

The Clinic is directed by Professor Mark N. Templeton. Previously, Templeton was a Trustee and Executive Director of the Office of Independent Trustees for the $20 billion Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust. He served as the cabinet-level Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, leading the state’s efforts in energy, environmental protection, state parks, and water resources.

CV & Contact for Prof. Templeton
Promoting Energy Justice from the Local to the Global

In this video, faculty and students at the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic talk about their efforts during the past several years to promote renewable energy in low-income, people-of-color communities near Detroit and to require the federal government to account for the global impacts of climate change when it writes rules and leases coal from federal lands.

Work on Policy & Litigation

The clinic’s work broadly falls into six different categories: traditional Clean Water Act litigation, Clean Water Act-related rule makings and comments, water quantity litigation, drinking water advocacy, climate and energy litigation and policy, and land and mining litigation and policy.

Project history
In East Chicago and Detroit, the Abrams Clinic Is Tackling Environmental Issues for Underserved Communities—and Broadening the Scope of Environmental Legal Work

In 2016, the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic began working with East Chicago, Indiana, residents in their fight for a safe cleanup of the soil contamination that has harmed the area for decades. In a different project, the clinic represents Soulardarity, a nonprofit that helps residents in the Detroit area launch their own solar energy projects, advocate for reliable electricity service, and more.

On the surface, these two projects are very different.

Discussing Biden's Environmental Agenda

Profs. Hajin Kim, Joshua C. Macey, Mark N. Templeton, and Robert A. Weinstock discuss the legal and legislative challenges the new administration may face in implementing its policy proposals.

Students learn substantive environmental and energy law while working in the Clinic, develop research and presentation skills, and how to root their advocacy in the areas in which they have a comparative advantage.

Where Abrams Clinic students have worked during their summers

  • Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing
  • American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund
  • Business & Professional People for the Public Interest
  • California Appellate Project
  • Centre for Applied Legal Studies
  • Chapman & Cutler
  • Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
  • City of Chicago Department of Law, Environmental Litigation Division
  • County Attorney's Office for Jefferson County (Lakewood, CO)
  • Covington & Burling
  • Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Earthjustice
  • Ellis & Winters, Raleigh, NC
  • Equip for Equality
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Fredrikson & Byron
  • Jenner & Block
  • Grippo & Elden
  • Hanson Bridgett
  • Holland & Hart
  • Hon. Andrea Wood, N.D. Ill.
  • Husch Blackwell
  • International Labour Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Latham & Watkins
  • Locke Lord
  • Lurie Children's Hospital Legal Department
  • Merchant & Gould
  • Microsoft
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Nelson Mullins
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • Parr Brown
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Perkins Coie
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Riverkeeper
  • Santa Clara County District Attorney
  • Sidley Austin
  • Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
  • Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry
  • Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid
  • U.S. Attorney's Office, N.D. Ill.
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
  • U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Richard Durbin
  • University of North Carolina - Asheville, Office of General Counsel
  • Winston & Strawn

Where Abrams Clinic alumni are working now

  • ACLU of Pennsylvania
  • Baker & McKenzie
  • Baker Botts
  • Clean Wisconsin
  • Clearly Gottlieb
  • Complete Wireless Consulting
  • Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
  • Covington & Burling
  • Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle
  • Earthjustice
  • Ellis & Winters
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children
  • Gurtin Municipal Bond Management
  • Holland & Hart LLP
  • Hon. Frank Easterbrook, 7th Cir.
  • Hon. Joan Lefkow, N.D. IL
  • Hon. Manish Shah, N.D. IL
  • Husch Blackwell
  • Illinois Pollution Control Board
  • Iowa Department of Justice
  • Kings County District Attorney's Office
  • Kirkland & Ellis
  • Locke Lord
  • Luzzatto Company, Inc.
  • Milbank Tweed Hadley and McCloy
  • Morrison & Foerster
  • Parr, Brown, Gee, & Loveless
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
  • Perkins Coie
  • Proskauer Rose
  • Roberts & Willie
  • Sapphire Ventures
  • Sidley Austin
  • Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett
  • Sonoma County Counsel's Office
  • University of Liege
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • WilmerHale
  • Winston & Strawn