Partners in law Wayne Law, Windsor Law partner for first North American transnational environmental law clinic

Wayne State University Law School and the University of Windsor Law School have forged a unique partnership that will provide students with opportunities to gain practical legal experience in transboundary environmental law and Great Lakes regional issues prior to graduation.

Working together in the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, students will serve their communities and beyond by taking on a wide variety of regional and bilateral environmental legal issues such as Great Lakes water quality and quantity, invasive species, air quality, renewable energy, and environmental justice. The law schools, based in Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, share a border on the Detroit River -- the busiest international crossing in North America - and are major population centers for the United States and Canada.

"We are thrilled to partner with Windsor Law on the first U.S.-Canada environmental law clinic of its kind," said Nick Schroeck, director of the Wayne Law Environmental Law Clinic and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. "Wayne Law's already established Environmental Law Clinic, which works closely with the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, provides an ideal base from which we will expand course offerings for our students on an international scale."

The first steps to this partnership are under way, with formal approval of a Windsor Law course expected by fall 2011. According to Windsor Law Professor Marcia Valiante, who helped spearhead the collaboration with Schroeck and Wayne Law Professor Noah Hall, two Windsor Law students under her direct supervision will get course credit for their work this semester with Wayne Law's Environmental Clinic.

"We have started meeting regularly with Professor Schroeck and the Wayne Law students and are increasingly excited about the many possibilities for collaboration that lie ahead for our future law students interested in international environmental law," Valiante said. "Our students at both law schools will be able to learn about another nation's legal system and take an active role in affecting environmental policy. The countries face similar environmental challenges that we hope to address in a cooperative way for the benefit of citizens on both sides of the border."

Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman and Windsor Law Dean Bruce Elman, who have collaborated on past projects such as the 2009 Boundary Waters Treaty Centennial Symposium, look forward to a closer institutional relationship as a result of this partnership.

"One of the main themes of Windsor Law is transnational law," said Dean Elman. "We have undertaken many initiatives in furtherance of this theme. The Transnational Environmental Law Clinic is the latest step in our commitment to offer our students meaningful opportunities for the study of transnational law. The clinic also demonstrates our commitment to Access to Justice and to experiential learning."

Added Dean Ackerman, "Our environmental law and international law programs at Wayne Law continue to grow. Our Program for International Legal Studies, less than two years old, is off to a great start, and we are quickly becoming a leader in the field of environmental law. We are thrilled to partner with Windsor Law to provide additional opportunities for our students and our communities to learn from one another and make a difference through the law."

Though the new clinic has only recently been announced, there is already a great deal of interest from students.

"I am excited by the opportunity to learn with our neighbors working out of Wayne State University and contribute to the ever-expanding and always important environmental protection movement," said Windsor Law student Cameron Hoos.

Published: Fri, Feb 25, 2011

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