Environmental Justice Clinic


The Environmental Justice Clinic (EJC) advocates for and empowers marginalized communities by combining civil rights, environmental, poverty, and public health law with community lawyering principles. We address practices stemming from systemic inequality and promote policy solutions to achieve structural change.

2019 Professor & Interns

Maddie Seales

"The Environmental Justice Clinic has changed the way that I think about the world and approach social justice issues. No other class in law school has done that for me.”

Maddie Seales, Environmental Justice Clinic Intern
University of Miami School of Law, Class of 2020

Brittany Herbert

"During my time with the EJC, not only have I have polished my legal research skills and been exposed to complex litigation processes, I have learned how to use these skills to empower others.”

Brittany Herbert, Environmental Justice Clinic Intern
University of Miami School of Law, Class of 2020

EJC Overview

The Environmental Justice Clinic (EJC) advocates for and seeks to empower low-and moderate-income communities who disproportionately bear the environmental, economic, and health burdens of the development, implementation, and enforcement of the law. Employing a community lawyering approach, we seek systemic change for our clients through advocacy, public policy resources, rights education, and transactional assistance.

Our work sits at the intersection of civil rights, environmental, poverty, and public health law, tackling issues in South Florida including climate change, displacement, contamination, environmental health, municipal equity, and more. Increasingly, we view our work through the lens of climate change, one of the most significant social justice issues of our time, and which will be felt most acutely by the poor and marginalized.

The EJC’s current work includes two class action toxic tort cases and two policy projects addressing displacement and climate change. The EJC, with partner law firms, is litigating state and federal class action lawsuits in, respectively, Styles v. City of Miami (“Old Smokey”) and Miller v. City of Fort Myers (“Dunbar”) to clean up and address the effects of toxic dumpsites on residents’ health and property interests in low-income communities of color in Miami and Fort Myers.

In addition, in collaboration with stakeholders, the EJC is developing a Displacement Vulnerability and Mitigation Tool to address and mitigate the displacement of low-income communities in South Florida. Further, the EJC is researching and proposing legislative initiatives to ensure South Florida residents can make informed decisions about their housing as it relates to the effects of climate change. Lastly, the EJC is participating in policy discussions and recommending alternatives to ensure that social equity is incorporated in government efforts to address climate change.

 Past work

Previous work of the EJC includes the investigation of the social equity implications of transitioning to form-based code (Miami21 and Urban Center Districts in unincorporated Miami-Dade County), paying particular attention to the disproportionate displacement suffered by low-income communities of color. This resulted in the publication of an article authored by EJC student and faculty entitled Building by Right: Social Equity Implications of Transitioning to Form-Based Code in the Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law. Additionally, as part of the anti-displacement project, the Clinic developed a community benefits agreement template and general community benefits resources tool to assist communities in their negotiation efforts with developers.

The EJC is so diverse it has a place for students with varying interests from human rights to race to local government to urban design to public health. The ultimate goal is to train and prepare the next generation of civil rights lawyers.

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Students in the EJC produce scholarly journals devoted to social justice issues. These publications offer students practical experience in writing, editing, and scholarship. 


Natalie N. Barefoot, Abigail L. Fleming, Daniela A. Tagtachian, Gabriela M. Falla, Bethany A. Blakeman, & Natalie Cavellier, There Will Be Floods: Armoring the People of Florida to Make Informed Decisions on Flood Risk, 94 Fla. B.J. 5 (2020).

Daniela A. Tagtachian, Natalie N. Barefoot, & Adrienne L. Harreveld, Building by Right: Social Equity Implications of Transitioning to Form-Based Code, 28 J. Affordable Housing & Community Dev. L. 71 (2019).

Ghetto Access to Justice: Community Triage Ethics, 31 GEO. J. LEGAL ETHICS (2018).

Inner-City Anti-Poverty Campaigns, 64 UCLA L. Rev. (2017).

Rebellious Pedagogy and Practice, 23 Clinical L. Rev. 5 (2016).

Resistance Songs: Mobilizing the Law and Politics of Community, 93 Tex. L. Rev. 1459 (2015).

Objecting to Race, 27 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 1129 (2014).

Paternalistic Interventions in Civil Rights and Poverty Law: A Case Study of Environmental Justice, 112 Mich. L. Rev. 1157 (2014).

Next-Generation Civil Rights Lawyers: Race and Representation in the Age of Identity Performance, with Angela Onwuachi-Willig, 122 Yale L.J. 1484 (2013).

Community Education and Access to Justice in a Time of Scarcity: Notes from the West Grove Trolley Garage Case, 2013 Wis. L. Rev 121 (2013).

Educating Lawyers for Community, 2012 Wis. L. Rev. 115 (2012).

Fidelity to Community: A Defense of Community Lawyering, 90 Tex. L. Rev. 635 (2012).

Big Law and Risk Management: Case Studies of Litigation, Deals, and Diversity, 24 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 991 (2011).

Integrating into a Burning House: Race- and Identity-Conscious Visions in Brown's Inner City, 84 S. Cal. L. Rev. 541 (2011).

Post-racialism in the Inner-City: Structure and Culture in Lawyering, 98 Geo. L.J. 921 (2010).

Jim Crow Ethics and the Defense of the Jena Six, 94 Iowa L. Rev. 1651 (2009).

Prosecuting the Jena Six, 93 Cornell L. Rev. 1285 (2008).

(Un)Covering Identity in Civil Rights and Poverty Law, 121 Harv. L. Rev. 805 (2008).

Faith in Community: Representing "Colored Town", 95 Cal. L. Rev. 1829 (2007).

Clinical Genesis in Miami, with Maryanne Stanganelli, Jessi Tamayo, Wendi Adelson, 75 UMKC L. Rev. 1137 (2007).

The Fall of Legal Ethics and the Rise of Risk Management, 94 Geo. L.J. 1909 (2006)

Gideon in White/Gideon in Black: Race and Identity in Lawyering, 114 Yale L.J. 1459 (2005).

Color/Identity/Justice: Chicano Trials, 53 Duke L.J. 1569 (2004).

John Hart Ely: Fathers and Sons, 58 U. Miami L. Rev. 953 (2004).

Retrying Race, 101 Mich. L. Rev. 1141 (2003).

Community Prosecutors, 90 Cal. L. Rev. 1465 (2002).

Ethics, Race, and Reform, 54 Stan. L. Rev. 1389 (2002).

Teaching the Law of Race, 89 Cal. L. Rev. 1605 (2001).

Race Prosecutors, Race Defenders, 89 Geo. L.J. Geo. L.J. 2227 (2001).

Prosecuting Violence/Reconstructing Community, 52 Stan. L. Rev. 809 (2000).

Prosecuting Race, 48 Duke L.J. 1157 (1999).

(Er)Race-ing an Ethic of Justice, 51 Stan. L. Rev. 935 (1999).

Black and White, 10 La Raza L.J. 561 (1998).

Roundtable Discussion: Visions for the Future - Lawyering for Poor Communities in the Twenty-First Century, 25 Fordham Urb. L.J. 729 (1998).

Race Trials, 76 Tex. L. Rev. 1293 (1998).

Black and White, 85 Cal. L. Rev. 1647 (1997).

Lynching Ethics: Toward a Theory of Racialized Defenses, 95 Mich. L. Rev. 1063 (1997).

Mitigation, Mercy, and Delay: The Moral Politics of Death Penalty Abolitionists, 31 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 325 (1996).

Race-ing Legal Ethics, 96 Colum. L. Rev. 800 (1996).

Practicing Community, 107 Harv. L. Rev. 1747 (1994).

Reconstructive Poverty Law Practice: Learning Lessons of Client Narrative, 100 Yale L.J. 2107 (1991).

The Antinomies of Poverty Law and a Theory of Dialogic Empowerment, 16 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 659 (1988).


Collaborative Partners

The EJC maintains active working relationships with the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, and Miller School of Medicine’s Graduate Program in Public Health, as well as local, regional, and national civil rights and environmental organizations, faith-based groups, and Florida nonprofit corporations and neighborhood associations.


For More Information

Please contact environmentaljusticeclinic@law.miami.edu


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