I’m pleased to report that the environmental law programs at both UCLA Law and Berkeley Law are among the top five in the country, according to the new U.S. News and World Report law school specialty ranking for this year. Berkeley is ranked #4, and UCLA is ranked #5. (Technically, there are six top-five schools, since UCLA and Georgetown tied for fifth.) As has been the case in many recent years, specialized law schools with a deep curriculum-wide commitment to environmental law – Vermont Law School, Lewis and Clark, and Pace – took the top three slots. The University of Utah, George Washington University, University of Colorado Law School, and Tulane round out the top ten. (Since there is no separate natural resources law ranking, the rankings reflect strong natural resources law programs at some of these schools as well.)
This post, from two years ago when UCLA Law first cracked the top ten, includes details about the ranking methodology as well as about both of our programs, and I won’t repeat all that here. But there is plenty of more recent news from our programs. Both programs have continued to grow. UCLA has added noted scholar Jim Salzman and has expanded its fellow team to include Julia Forgie and Sarah Duffy. In the past two years, our recent graduates have gone on to terrific positions as honors fellows at both US EPA Regions 9 and 10, the California Department of Justice, and other government agencies, as well as positions in public-interest organizations and law firms. Our research program has grown in influence and scope, too, and much of this research has direct implications for policy (for example, this report on using Section 115 of the Clean Air Act to address greenhouse gas emissions, Ted Parson’s work on climate engineering governance, and Tim Malloy’s work on regulatory alternatives assessment). For its part, Berkeley has added new clinic director Claudia Polsky, and its Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment has a relatively new executive director, Jordan Diamond. Berkeley’s faculty continues to publish prolifically and influentially as well. Our two programs continue to partner on this blog and on our California Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, as well as on particular projects.
Finally, I’ll add that environmental law programs are thriving throughout the UC system. UC Davis continues to have a very strong program with the relatively recent addition of Lesley McAllister. UC Hastings recently recruited noted scholar Dave Owen to join its faculty. And UC Irvine has developed a thriving clinic under the direction of Michael Robinson-Dorn, in addition to its other esteemed faculty. It’s neither an accident nor a surprise that environmental law programs are growing here, as California continues to be both a leader in environmental protection and the locus of a complex web of significant environmental challenges, policy and technology innovation, and governance structures and strategies that provide both the promise of cutting-edge success and the risk of significant failure.
In the end, the rankings aren’t the most important thing, of course, by a longshot. We’re proud of the experience and skills our students receive, and of what they go on to achieve. And it’s gratifying to see the influence of our research, as well as the ways our programs’ policy-oriented work and clinical work serve the public. But it’s nice to have the recognition too.