EPA Official Announces Expanded Law Program at NCCU

Justin Anderson, a third-year student at North Carolina Central University’s School of Law, spent part of his summer in an intensive environmental law program at Vermont Law School, considered one of the nation’s premier law schools for environmental and natural resources law.

Anderson joined other passionate law students and broadened his notion of public service.
“I’ve talked to so many students here about pollution, invasive species, water quality, agricultural practices and land development,” he told an interviewer.

Scott Fulton and Dean Raymond Pierce

NCCU’s School of Law will expand the program next year, adding paid federal internships at offices across the nation. On Monday, Scott Fulton, General Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, traveled to the law school to announce the expanded 2011 EPA Fellows Program.

The program will finance paid, eight-week summer internships at EPA offices for five NCCU law students, along with two weeks in the environmental law program at Vermont Law School. Assistant Professor Kevin Foy, who heads the program at NCCU, said students will pick an area of environmental law on which to focus, such as clean air, toxic substances or litigation. That choice will determine the EPA office at which they will intern.
Each internship is valued at about $15,000.

NCCU entered into a formal agreement with the EPA and Vermont in 2009 to participate in the program. It was the federal agency’s first organized effort to train more lawyers to handle environmental justice issues in minority and low-income communities. Legal observers contend that such communities bear a disproportionate share of the health and environmental impacts from pollution.

Lisa Jackson, the nation’s first African-American EPA chief, has cited the program as being necessary to bring new leaders into the environmental movement.
Fulton also delivered an address at the law school on Monday. Craig G. Hooks, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, appeared at the law school, too, for the announcement.

Foy said NCCU’s law school will expand its existing environmental law program even more next semester, adding energy law to its course offerings. It will allow concentration on such areas as nuclear energy, energy economics, alternative energy sources and consumer impacts.

The law school has gained increasing visibility, in North Carolina and nationally. Last year, U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. presided over a moot court competition at the law school. In recent years, it won first-place ranking nationally for best value by the National Jurist and preLaw magazines. The ranking is based on affordability, bar-passage rate and employment within nine months of graduation.