“We’re at a really important time … where our whole energy system is changing for the better … but we also face big challenges.” – Andrew Armstrong, IL AGO
Last week, at a discussion about environmental and other public interest careers in attorney general offices, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said: “The federal and state statutes that make up environmental law are as important as the air we breathe and the water that we drink,” and the attorneys in her office “enforce those laws to the benefit of all Michiganders … and … really to all Americans.”
Decades ago, the phrase “environmental law” might have evoked thoughts of working on cases about contaminated water, polluted air, and toxic waste spills.
While these areas are very much still part of the landscape, now there are new tools to address them. There is also more ground to cover: there is a resounding need for work on climate and resilience, and environmental justice, an issue that dedicated advocates have been working on for decades. This is both an exciting and important time to practice environmental law, and the public sector has opportunities for students, new attorneys, and seasoned practitioners to make an impact.
“If you are…spending those long hours and really investing yourself … it’s really great to have it be something you care about on such a personal level.”– Gavin McCabe, NY AGO
There are many ways to have a career in environmental law – non-governmental organizations, federal government, local government, and the private sector.
But as AG staffers explained, working in an AG office offers a great package: the opportunity to serve the public, an often good work-life balance, collaboration with other advocates, and high levels of responsibility even as a junior attorney.
The Center works to connect interested law students to opportunities like these through our student outreach list. Some job search resources mentioned at the event include:
Career Opportunities at:
American Constitution Society: State AGO Opportunities
“Working for the AG’s office is, I think, one of the most rewarding ways to serve the public interest. I feel incredibly fortunate to do the work I do.”– Liza Roberson-Young, IL AGO
No matter what area of law, working in an AG office can be rewarding and meaningful. As District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine put it at another event last fall: “The question before all of you, whether you’ve been a practicing lawyer for years, or if you’re just a 1L, what are you going to do about it, and how can you have the greatest impact?” Beyond environmental law, AGs work on consumer protection, voting rights, and police reform – to name a few – as AG Nessel put it, “we’ve got it all.” If you open up a newspaper, many top stories “in some way, shape, or form” involve her department.