In 2019, CWRU School of Law received a $10 million gift to launch the Burke Center for Environmental Law. The size of this transformative gift instantly put CWRU on the map in the environmental law field. Our location in Cleveland, on the shores of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, in a region confronting the full range of contemporary environmental challenges and opportunities, renders the Burke Center an especially important new player in this area.
CWRU appointed Professor Jonathan H. Adler, one of the most cited authorities in Administrative and Environmental Law, to head the new Burke Center. With the income from the endowment, the law school is expanding its environmental offerings, adding new externships, organizing impactful conferences and recruiting the next generation of environmental law leaders with our newly introduced Coleman Burke Environmental Law scholarships.
In our 3L capstone, our students may pursue semester-long, full-time externships at environmental non-profits or governmental agencies. Options range from local governments and local environmental advocacy organizations including Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, to national advocacy organizations and federal agencies, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington, D.C.
Scholarships are available for students wishing to pursue their experiential capstone outside of northeast Ohio.
The Burke Center sponsors scholarships and fellowships for students with a demonstrated interest in environmental law. Students have the opportunity to pursue externships in environmental law in a wide array of organizations and agencies. In recent years, students have pursued opportunities at the Center for International Environmental Law, Western Reserve Land Trust, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana.
The student-led organization LEAF (Law for the Environment, Animals and Food) has an active event series, hosting speakers from local non-profit organizations such as the Western Reserve Land Trust. Other environmental organizations on campus, including the Great Lakes Energy Institute and Swetland Center for Environmental Health, sponsor programs for students. And the university’s Office of Sustainability provides opportunities for students to get involved with environmental issues on campus, ranging from the University’s own environmental practices to local conservation and restoration efforts.
Environmental Law Faculty
The Director of the Burke Center is Jonathan H. Adler, the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law. Adler is one of the nation’s most-cited professors in environmental and administrative law according to the Leiter Study and a frequent commentator in the news media. He is the author or editor of eight books, including, "Rebuilding the Ark: New Perspectives on Endangered Species Act Reform," and the forthcoming book, "Environmental Federalism: Let 50 Flowers Bloom."
Adler is joined by expert adjunct professors including David Kutik of Jones Day, who teaches Energy Law; Beth Nagutsky, former head of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection and lawyer for the Lake Erie wind power project, who teaches our climate law course; and Catherine Lacroix, who teaches environmental law. In addition, Professor Juscelino Colares publishes in the international environmental law and climate fields and teaches a seminar on International Environmental Law.