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Environmental Rights Institute

Delaware Law School has one of the most extensive and longest-standing environmental law programs in the world. It was one of the first law schools in the nation to offer environmental law regularly, beginning in 1981, and is home to the world’s fourth longest-standing environmental law clinical program, which began in 1989.

National Jurist recently ranked Delaware Law as one of the nation’s top environmental law schools. Our program has received awards from the Sierra Club, the American Canoe Association, and the state of Delaware for its mission, evolving curriculum, and success.

About the Environmental Rights Institute

The Environmental Rights Institute coordinates the various components of Delaware Law's environmental programs. The Institute provides multiple environmental law course offerings and opportunities for practical experience in the field through the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic and various externships. Our alumni have richly benefited from the Institute’s experiential learning component. Hundreds of students have participated in our environmental clinic or in a related externship over the years, and many graduates have taken at least one environmental law-focused course at Delaware Law. Many of our graduates go on to practice environmental law, making a difference locally, across the country, and throughout the world.

Our Mission

The Environmental Rights Institute strives to engage students, faculty, organizations, and current legal professionals in the environmental, sustainability, and energy issues faced by local and state governments. Our approach encompasses scholarship, applied research, teaching, special projects, clinical programs, and externships.

As public awareness of environmental issues has grown, so has the importance of environmental law and the demand for professionals with this specific skill set. Now more than ever, state and international governments grapple with a broad and ever-growing spectrum of environmental and sustainability concerns, which shape and influence various real estate, land use, civil, tort, workplace safety, and tax laws.

Students who concentrate their studies through the Institute acquire career-shaping skills, including the ability to advocate for and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental, energy, and climate change legislation. Through a blend of dedicated coursework, clinics, externships, and other activities, students:

  • assist public and private decision makers with environmental law issues;
  • study energy, sustainability, and other critical environmental law areas; and
  • prepare for positions defending the environment and upholding existing legislation in federal, state, or local government or in private firms.

The Environmental Rights Institute further serves as a legal resource for policymakers and current legal professionals. Our faculty and students aim to promote sustainability from a legislative perspective and advance this mission through information and initiatives involving government, business, and nonprofit organizations.

Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic

Students participating in the Environmental Rights Institute have an opportunity to gain hands-on experience defending the environment through the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. Since 1989, the Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic has engaged hundreds of law students in projects to protect water, air, soil, and endangered species.

The Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic allows students to gain practical experience in the field and make valuable industry connections that will benefit their future law career. Students learn to put the theories learned in class into practice by:

  • representing nonprofit organizations and individuals seeking to protect the environment;
  • litigating cases involving violation of environmental laws;
  • learning and practicing the legal skills needed to launch a career in environmental law, including drafting agreements, administrative proceedings, and appearing in court on behalf of clients; and
  • empowering citizens to represent themselves while defending environmental rights legislation.

Whether you are a current or prospective Juris Doctor candidate, learn more about the Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic.


Judicial Handbook on Environmental Constitutionalism March 2017 (pdf)
Draft of International Covenant for the Right to a Healthy Environment (Eng.) (pdf)
Draft of International Covenant for the Right to a Healthy Environment (Fr.) (pdf)

Spring 2017 Environmental Rights Newsletter (pdf)

Learn More About the Environmental Rights Institute

Specialize your JD degree in environmental law while defending our planet and supporting sustainability initiatives through the Environmental Rights Institute. Contact our program directors today or request more information.

Contact Information

James May
Distinguished Professor and Global Environmental Rights Institute Founder
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 302.477.2060

Ken Kristl
Professor and Director of the Environmental & Natural Resources Clinic
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 302.477.2053