Center for Ethics & Public Service Launches New Environmental Justice Clinic

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Nicole Pecorella, Elizabeth Fata, Emily Balter, Ashley Morales, Carmelina Forzisi, Stephanie MacLaughlin, Elyssa Luke, Deanna Kalil, and Leslie Coulter

Miami Law’s Center for Ethics & Public Service recently launched a new clinic – the Environmental Justice Clinic. The Center’s Historic Black Church Program Civil Rights & Poverty Project, Environmental Justice Project, and Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Project have merged under the umbrella of the Environmental Justice Clinic in January 2016 and look forward to its first full year of students starting in the Fall.

The Environmental Justice Clinic provides rights education, interdisciplinary research, and public policy resources to low- and moderate-income communities discriminated against by state and private actors in economic development, education, housing, and transportation, and to communities seeking fair treatment and meaningful involvement in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, including incinerator contamination and industrial pollution.

“The Environmental Justice Clinic (EJC) is an inner-city civil rights project designed to redress problems afflicting the built (housing and transportation) and natural (industrial pollution) environment in impoverished communities of color,” said Center Director Professor Anthony Alfieri. “Working in close collaboration w ith community stakeholders, EJC students provide rights education, interdisciplinary research, public policy resources, and advocacy and transactional assistance to individuals, groups, civic associations, and nonprofit organizations across a broad range of civil rights, environmental safety, and public health issues.”

As a clinic, this hands-on work now provides students greater exposure to legal representation and with the continued opportunity to work on teams with pro bono attorneys from across the City and County. The Clinic provides experiential legal education for the students, as well as an additional mechanism to better serve disenfranchised communities across Miami-Dade County. Transforming the projects into a clinical experience expands the professional training opportunities for students and exposes those enrolled to both litigation and transactional matters.

“Recently EJC students worked hard to  halt the placement of a municipal bus depot in Coconut Grove Village West, expand municipal trolley service to East Coral Gables, uncover the adverse effects of environmental exposure to hazardous waste from a City of Miami incinerator, and investigate city-wide policies and practices of housing displacement and segregation,” said Professor Alfieri.

For the Center’s community partners the goals and projects remain steadfast. The Clinic plans on continuing all of its projects regarding  civil rights, environmental justice, and nonprofit and social enterprise assistance for community organizations in need of transactional assistance.