The Environmental Law and Community Engagement Clinic fits within the Law School’s Program in Law, Communities and the Environment (PLACE). Students in this semester-long clinic have the opportunity to work on real-world environmental problems in a variety of venues — legal advocacy before courts, expert testimony before administrative agencies and coalition building directly with the communities impacted by environmental harm.

The clinic has represented a diverse array of public-interest clients in recent years, from a community group working to preserve an early 20th-century black schoolhouse, to local governments filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition to working on in-house clinic cases, students also have the option of working closely with attorneys at the Southern Environmental Law Center, a nationally prominent environmental law and policy organization that is headquartered in Charlottesville. The clinic is available to new students in both fall and spring. Students participating in the fall may request to continue to the advanced clinic in the spring, on a first come, first served basis.

Supreme Court Amicus Briefs Filed by the Clinic

City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, (2024). PDF

Sackett v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, (2022). PDF

United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, (2020). PDF

Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, (2019). PDF

County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, (2019). PDF

Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, (2018). PDF

Administrative and Regulatory Filings Prepared by the Clinic

Brief of Public Health and Energy Efficiency Amici Curiae (Jan. 9, 2024). PDF

Comments Opposing Proposed Regulation to Withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ("RGGI") (March 31, 2023). PDF

Letter on Behalf of the AAMD Pine Grove Project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Oct. 21, 2020). PDF

Letter on Behalf of the City of Staunton, Virginia to the Council on Environmental Quality (March 10, 2020). PDF

Letter on Behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to the U.S. EPA (Apr. 28, 2018)PDF

Public Policy Reports Prepared by the Clinic

Legal and Verified: Voluntary Carbon Offsets and their Contribution to Carbon Neutrality Goals at the University of Virginia (Nov. 30, 2021). PDF

The Role of the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission in the Transition to a Zero Carbon Economy (July, 2021). PDF

Report on Legal Analysis of Well-Water Contamination and Options for Remediation, (June 18, 2020). PDF

Legal Report on Executive 43, (May 29, 2020). PDF

Legal Options for Community Choice Aggregation in Virginia, (Dec., 2019). PDF

Barriers and Opportunities for Siting Solar Energy Projects on Contaminated Mine Lands in Nevada, (May, 2017). PDF

To be considered for this clinic, students must both rank the clinic in the clinic lottery and submit application materials within the timeline set by the Student Records Office. Students selected for the clinic through the clinic application/lottery process will be automatically enrolled prior to the regular course lottery.

The positions that the clinic takes on behalf of its clients are independent of the views of the University of Virginia or the School of Law.

Cale Jaffe
Professor of Law
Director, Program in Law, Communities and the Environment (PLACE)
Director, Environmental Law and Community Engagement Clinic
Remote video URL
Skills Taught
Administrative law practice before federal/state agencies, litigation involving expert witness testimony, community engagement and client relationship skills working directly with environmental and grassroots nonprofits, coalition-building, advocacy
Course Credits
4 (3 for advanced clinic)