Current lawyers seeking to increase their knowledge of environmental law can complete a fully online Master of Laws (L.L.M.) program. These programs include advanced coursework in energy and environmental law. Online students may be able to choose electives to concentrate their studies on the specific field of environmental law, such as climate change and polices or energy laws.
Master of Laws in Environmental Law
Although rare, students can pursue a distance learning L.L.M. degree in environmental law at a few public and private schools across the country. These American Bar Association-accredited programs are available in fully online formats and are designed for currently practicing lawyers looking to learn more about laws and policies related to energy and the environment. Among other learning outcomes, graduates acquire an advanced-level understanding of the distinct roles played by legislatures and regulatory agencies in environmental protection and management. They can be completed in about one year.
L.L.M. programs are designed for lawyers and require applicants to have a Juris Doctor degree from an ABA-approved program or foreign equivalent. These programs require around 25-30 credits and some programs may restrict students to completing only one course at a time due to the research-intensive nature of the courses.
Students enrolled in an L.L.M. program have the opportunity to explore the relationship between the environment and resource development, as well as issues related to alternative fuels and renewable energy. A sampling of online graduate course descriptions can be found below.
Energy Law and Policy
In this course, aspiring policymakers study the basis of American energy policies within a global context. Options for alleviating or resolving policy strains on environmental sustainability are also discussed.
Through this comprehensive overview of environmental protection laws, students learn about the roles played by Congress, the courts, the President, and other stakeholders in protecting our health and the natural world. Specific pieces of legislation include the Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Global Environmental Law and Policy
Future policymakers examine the legal and theoretical basis of the environmental movement in the United States and abroad. Topics include deforestation, endangered species, global warming, and overpopulation, among other subjects.
Sustainable Politics and Policy
This course introduces students to the theory of sustainability and its strategic implementation at the local, national, and international levels. They also learn how progress in sustainability can be measured through the use of ecological footprint and life-cycle analyses and pursue topics in steady-state economics and sustainable consumption and production.
Career Options, Job Outlook and Salary
Environmental lawyers focus on the concerns and regulations that affect our natural world, and their clients may include government agencies, public advocacy groups, or waste disposal industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for lawyers in general are projected to increase by 6% from 2014 to 2024, a fast as average rate when compared to all other occupations. In May 2015, lawyers earned median annual wages of $115,820. Lawyers in the lowest 10% of the salary spectrum received yearly salaries of $55,870 or less, with those in the highest 10% earning more than $187,200 (www.bls.gov).
Practicing lawyers wishing to become educated in environmental law can pursue an online, ABA-accredited L.L.M. degree, which covers topics related to the environment from a legal perspective and often offers specializations in environmental law topics.