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LAW 235 - Environmental Law

Course Stats

Instructor:  James Salzman, J.D.

Units:  3

Semester Offered:  Spring or Fall (check ahead)


Official description here: http://www.law.duke.edu/curriculum/courseinfo/course?id=19

Skills and Career Applications

Insert comments on the intent and career applications of this class. Comments/Quotes from Nicholas Alumni are especially valued.

This class focuses on U.S. environmental law, covering the major components and rulings:

  • administrative law (Chevron)
  • RCRA
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act (including Rapanos)
  • Endangered Species Act
  • NEPA 

Anyone considering future work in environmental consulting, federal management, lobbying, land use planning, or emissions policy development should take this class. 

Registration Advice

  • The class is cross listed between the Law School and Nicholas, and enrollment is about 50/50.  Nicholas students must stop by Cindy Peters' office to sign up in the semester prior.  Unless you are waitlisted, you are pretty much guaranteed a spot and all registration details will be taken care for you.  You do not have to sign up through ACES.
  • The class can be offered in either spring or fall.  Check carefully.
  • There is substantial reading for this course, but they are manageable (besides being mandatory).  These are the only assignments, however.  There are 2-3 two-person memo writing exercises that is usually not graded. 
  • The main grade comes from the single, final exam, which usually freaks people out.  The exam is open book and open note, however.  All the more reason to keep up with reading, and make good outlines along the way.  Study groups are key.
  • You do not have to have any familiarity with law topics prior to this class

Student Opinions

  • This is generally accepted as one of the most awesome classes you will take at the Nicholas School.  Probably the most philosophical and mentally stimulating, with some discussion on the ethics and motivations of environmental protection.
  • The instructor teaches in the Socratic method:  students are expected to complete readings before hand, and be prepared to be cold-called in class.  The instructor does this expertly, however, and uses student answers to reiterate key points, to rephrase definitions, to dig deeper into the issues at hand with follow-up questions.  There is also the use of debates and small group discussion in the class. 
  • If you don't want to buy the $125 book, find a willing person who will let you copy the readings pro rated.  This will help.
  • The optional "Concepts & Insights: Environmental Law and Policy" book by Salzman and Thompson provides a great comprehensive and readable review of most topics covered in class.  You cannot use it in the exam.
  • Take this class!

The Instructor's Take...

(This space is exclusively for the instructor to broadly comment on his or her course, and respond to commonly received feedback, explain methods and approaches, and encourage student registration. Instructors: Please limit to 300 words, or link to a wiki page of your own creation to explain in detail.)