Howard University School of Law and ELI Establish New Environmental Justice Clerkship

November 2020

(Washington, D.C.): The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and Howard University School of Law, with the generous support of the True Costs Initiative, are proud to announce the Environmental Justice Clerkship at ELI, a new clerkship program designed to train, mentor, and ultimately retain more law students of color in the field of environmental law while advancing meaningful environmental justice efforts.

Established in 1869, the Howard University School of Law has been fulfilling its mission as an agent for social change for more than 150 years. Home to the nations’ first Environmental Justice Center, the school boasts a number of environmental justice experts on its faculty. ELI, meanwhile, is an independent, nonprofit environmental organization that has been making law work for people, places, and the planet for more than 50 years, and it has an extensive history of training and mentoring young talent. Given its expertise in the field of environmental law and policy, ELI has long been the source of cutting-edge legal analysis on environmental justice, has facilitated the implementation of those methods and objectives both domestically and internationally, and has published some of the seminal works in the field. Through this new clerkship, ELI and Howard Law seek to support Howard Law students pursuing a career in environmental justice and to facilitate the skill-building, substantive education, and networking critical to a solid professional foundation.

“ELI has enjoyed collaborating with the Howard University School of Law on a variety of environmental justice projects over the years,” said ELI President Scott Fulton. “We’re excited to be working with Howard Law yet again, this time with the goal of boosting young careers in hopes of gaining more colleagues and leaders of color in the field of environmental law.”

Dovetailing with the work of the Environmental Justice Center and Howard Law courses dedicated to providing experiential and academic training in environmental law and justice, one Howard Law student will be selected each semester and during the summer to work closely with ELI experts on a variety of projects with an emphasis on environmental justice. For example, clerks will advance environmental rights through research and model bill drafting, assist overburdened communities with sustainable development planning, and author reports that support community-driven environmental justice efforts. ELI staff will emphasize development of the clerks’ legal research and writing skills as well as their communication, organization, and deadline management. Taking account of each clerk’s aspirations and background, ELI staff will assign engaging projects and arrange connections with environmental professionals to broaden the clerk’s exposure to environmental career options. To ensure that socioeconomic background does not limit the clerkship’s reach, each clerk will receive a stipend.

“We are very excited to partner with ELI to bring this opportunity to our students,” said Howard Law Professor Carlton Waterhouse. “The fight for environmental justice needs highly skilled advocates. This opportunity allows Howard Law students to gain additional research skills and expertise that build on the environmental law and justice coursework provided in law school. ELI is simply the best at what they do. No environmental organization does a better job identifying international and domestic law and policy options and educating professionals and the public with data and analysis to solve problems. We believe this clerkship provides our students with an invaluable opportunity to work closely with researchers and experts at ELI at the forefront of the field. Through focused attention on environmental justice, ELI and Howard are collaborating to deepen and expand the pipeline of lawyers reforming and reframing environmental law to produce environmental justice for all.”

“An essential part of advancing environmental justice is investing in future leaders who will work at the intersection of environmental justice and social justice. This unique ELI and Howard clerkship to train, mentor, and retain more law students of color in the field does exactly that, and we are proud to support that work,” said Conniel Malek, Executive Director of True Costs Initiative, which will sponsor the program for 2021.

If you are interested in contributing to this effort through additional financial support of the clerks or talking with them about careers, please contact Adam Schempp at

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