Creating a Niche

New law center focuses on environmental issues

Third-year law student Megan Goedeker recently began clerking at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., to gain practical experience working on environmental cases at the federal level.

Soon, more students at Case Western Reserve's School of Law will be steeped in environmental issues and research, thanks to the new Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law. The center was launched this year with a $10 million gift from Burke, JD (LAW '70), a prominent environmental conservationist. It's the largest gift in the law school's history.

The center will provide students many opportunities to delve into issues such as air and water quality, waste management and climate change through academic research and externships.

"We are in a part of the country where environmental issues are not merely important, but are at the center of a lot of very important environmental debates and controversies, and that is a big opportunity for students," said Jonathan H. Adler, JD, the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and the center's director.

With the Burke Center, the law school has taken a big step in seeing environmental law as a core part of its identity and not merely a specialty, said John Pendergrass, JD (LAW '79), vice president of programs and publications at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., and a member of the center's alumni advisory board.

The center's first public event, an October symposium, is co-sponsored with the Case Western Reserve Law Review and tied to the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1970.

Goedekerwho is doing a 13-week stint at the Justice Departmentwill graduate just months before the Burke Center launches most programs for students.

This will be a great opportunity for other students in future years and will create a strong network of alumni interested and working in environmental law," she said.

— Angela Townsend