Centers Of Excellence

Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment

A leading environmental law program at a renowned public university, the Emmett Institute educates future leaders and develops solutions to urgent environmental and environmental justice challenges.

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Shaping Environmental Law

Home to 10 core faculty members and six fellows, the Emmett Institute works to solve urgent environmental challenges through applied research, education, and service to our community.

The Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is among the leading environmental law programs in the country, with faculty members renowned for their public service, teaching excellence, and scholarship in state, federal, and international law. Located in Los Angeles, a diverse city facing unique environmental justice and climate change challenges, the Emmett Institute provides J.D. and LL.M. students unmatched opportunities for mentoring, career placement, and experiential learning. Through groundbreaking research and public interest initiatives, the Emmett Institute helps shape climate change and environmental law and policy in California, the United States, and jurisdictions around the world. 


Knowledge Into Action

Emmett Institute faculty and students draw on the resources of the country's premier public university to develop law and policy solutions for climate change and other environmental challenges. 

Who We Are

Student Opportunities ​​​​​​

UCLA Law offers J.D. and LL.M. students one of the country's most extensive environmental course offerings, covering a range of state, federal, and international law issues. Ranked as one of the top environmental law programs in the country, the Emmett Institute also provides students with scholarship funding, experiential learning, and connections to a network of alumni in leadership positions across the country. Through one-on-one mentoring, our faculty help students find internships and early-career positions in government, nonprofits, and private practice. The Emmett Institute gives students opportunities to work at the forefront of climate and environmental advocacy in California and around the world.

  • Environmental Law Specialization

    The Environmental Law Specialization offers J.D. students a robust program of study with some of the country's top scholars in environmental law — who have also earned accolades for their teaching excellence. Our doctrinal environmental law courses cover an array of topics from energy law to environmental justice. 

    Students in the specialization can represent nonprofit advocacy groups and government agencies in the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic, engage with elected officials and their staff through the California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic, enroll in several practical and simulation courses, and serve as interns with leading nonprofits and government agencies.

    Students in the specialization benefit from one-on-one faculty advising, with each student developing an individualized curriculum package. Students completing the specialization create a demonstrated record of study and experience in environmental law and prepare for careers with public-interest organizations, government agencies, and private law firms. Upon successful completion of the required courses, students are awarded a diploma notation at graduation.

  • Internships

    Second- and third-year students may gain valuable real-world experience by choosing to participate in UCLA Law’s externship program. UCLA’s environmental law internships include opportunities with government agencies like the California Attorney General's Office, and with non-profits, including Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice.

    Students can choose from full-time and part-time internships. Full-time interns spend an entire semester working for the agency or organization and receive full law school credit, while part-time interns split their time between classes and their internship and receive credit for each. Internships let students work with practicing environmental lawyers, develop skills, and gain insight into future job opportunities.

    • Career Advising

      Students interested in environmental law careers receive one-on-one advising with Emmett Institute faculty on career tracks, internships, and post-graduate employment. With support from the Emmett Institute, our students have been appointed to highly competitive clerkships and fellowships.

      The Emmett Institute fosters a community of prominent alumni in leadership roles at government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private practice. Our graduates practice law and serve their communities in California and across the country. Alumni frequently speak on campus, participate in Emmett Institute social events and career panels, and welcome engagement with current students. 

      Students pursuing environmental law careers also benefit from UCLA Law’s Office of Career Services and career advising through the Office of Public Interest Programs.

      Emmett Institute faculty are committed to providing resources for the environmental law community in California and across the country. Our faculty maintain a broad network of professionals in environmental law and policy. Several of our faculty members hold leadership positions in the California Lawyers Association's Environmental Law Section.  

      • Scholarships and Funding

        The Emmett Institute offers tuition scholarships for incoming students looking to devote their careers to climate change, environmental justice, and other environmental law issues. These scholarships include the Will Scholarship in Environmental Law, the Shirley Shapiro Scholarship in Environmental Law, and the Emmett Scholarship in Environmental Law.

        The Institute regularly supports public interest summer placements in environmental and climate law. We have provided financial support for student internships at non-profits such as Communities for a Better Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and government agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, California Air Resources Board, and California Attorney General's Office, among others.

        UCLA Law students can receive funding for summer environmental work through the Public Interest Law Fund.

        • Curriculum

          Students interested in environmental law and policy can select from many courses led by Emmett Institute faculty celebrated for their teaching excellence. Visit the UCLA Law Curriculum Guide for a list of current environmental courses.

          • Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic

            Founded in 1994 as one of the first law school clinics in the country to focus on environmental issues, the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic provides students opportunities to take on important environmental cases and projects while representing non-profit groups and other public interest clients.

            Students have successfully challenged the grant of a permit for coal mining on Native American lands in Arizona on behalf of Hopi tribal members; drafted petitions and comment letters urging changes in federal law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the Center for Biological Diversity; and worked through the United Nations on behalf of small island states fighting for aggressive international climate change action.

            • Environmental Law Society

              The mission of UCLA's Environmental Law Society is to educate students about current issues in environmental law and policy, provide a space to facilitate conversations about environmental problem-solving, and foster a supportive community for students interested in addressing environmental issues.

              ELS plans speaking events featuring environmental law practitioners and professors, arranges an annual trip to the Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, where UCLA Law typically has the largest student delegation. ELS coordinates student participation in inter-school environmental moot court and competitions like the California Lawyers Association's annual environmental law negotiations, hosted at UCLA Law every other year.

              ELS also organizes environmentally-focused activities for students, and works to green the law school.

              • UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy

                The UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy is one of the nation’s top environmental law journals, and has a staff of nearly 50 students. The journal publishes twice a year and accepts articles from leading environmental law scholars and practitioners, as well as UCLA student-written comments and book reviews.




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