Environmental Law Program

Aerial shot of Miami - ocean, port, buildingsMiami Law’s Environmental Law Program is unique due to its South Florida location, enabling the focus on the prism of issues affecting the environment — from maritime to real estate to land use to the cruise industry to environmental law to law of the sea. The Program also offers a unique intersectionality with other University of Miami graduate programs in marine affairs, land use, architecture, and business. With a Concentration in Environmental Law and an Environmental Justice Clinic, the program trains students to become future attorneys, policy makers, and scholars in the field of environmental law locally, nationally, and internationally.

Faculty & Leadership

Jessica owley

The program features a faculty with recognized national expertise in a wide range of areas, including climate change, international environmental law, pollution control regulation, land use regulation, and ocean and coastal law.

Professor Jessica Owley is the Director of the Environmental Law Program at Miami Law. An internationally recognized expert scholar in environmental law, Professor Owley directed the Environmental Law Program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. She has served as an OECD Fellow while a Visiting Professor at the Universidad Pontificia – Comillas (ICADE) in Madrid, Spain. She is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law, Property, and Society, is one of the founding members and the current President of the Environmental Law Collaborative and is a member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Environmental Law and the World Commission of Protected Areas.

 

CORE PROGRAM FACULTY

Tony Alfieri is an expert in poverty, the environment and environmental equity and justice and incubated the law school’s Environmental Justice Project

Abigail Leigh Fleming is the Fredman Foundation Environmental Justice Clinic, Practitioner-in-Residence and Lecturer in Law

Erin Okuno's research and scholarship focus on environmental law, particularly wetlands, biodiversity, endangered species, de-extinction, and international environmental law. 

Bernard Oxman is one of the world's top experts on the laws of the sea and currently sits on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Ileana Porras is Senior Lecturer and teaches Public International Law, Climate Change Law & Policy, and Property Law.

Daniel Suman's research focuses on coastal management in Latin America, planning and enforcement in Marine Protected Areas, and public participation in environmental planning.

AFFILIATED FACULTY

Caroline Bradley is an expert in European community law, British and European financial law, and U.S. security regulations and teaches a course on Climate Finance.

Xavier Cortada is a lawyer and artist who focuses on art and the law and climate migration.

Tamar Ezer is Faculty Director of the Human Rights Program and works on climate change impacts on indigenous women.

Marcia Narine Weldon is an expert in corporate governance, sustainability, employment law, regulatory compliance, corporate social responsibility, and the intersection of business and human rights.

ADJUNCT FACULTY

Brian Adler teaches Planning and Zoning

Joni Coffey teaches Real Property and Government

Bill Dwyer teaches Protection of Living Marine Resources

Susan Hankin teaches Companion Animals and the Law

Michael Karcher teaches Admiralty

Daniel Magraw teaches Climate Change and Human Rights.

Kerry McGrath teaches Wetlands Regulation and Permitting

Howard Nelson teaches Environmental Regulation of Real Property

Concentrations, Joint Degrees

CONCENTRATIONS
For students who want to delve more deeply, Miami Law enables them to focus their studies via the Environmental Law Concentration or Area of Focus. Students who meet all requirements receive a notation on their official transcript. See list of available courses in the concentration.

Related concentrations include:

Business Compliance and Sustainability Concentration or Area of Focus
Social Justice & Public Interest Concentration or Area of Focus

JOINT DEGREES
For even more in-depth specialization, the Program builds on the University of Miami's outstanding interdisciplinary and joint degree programs—unmatched by any other law school—so law students can get the background they need, especially for more grounding in related sciences.

Experiential Learning: Clinics, Moot Competitions, International Study

Environmental Justice Clinic
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. It was launched in 2016 as Environmental Justice Project in Miami Law’s Center for Ethics and Public Service under Professor Tony Alfieri and later became full-fledged clinic.

National Environmental Moot Court Competition
Hosted by Pace Law School and well-known for its challenging problems, the event attracts teams from all over the United States. In 2020-2021, UM Law sent its first team and won first place.

International Environmental Moot Court Competition
The Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition devoted exclusively to global environmental challenges. Regional rounds are held in Africa, East Asia, Eastern and Central Europe, Ireland, India, Latin America, North America, and Southeast Asia. The International Finals are held at Stetson University College of Law.

Pace Environmental Law & Policy Hack Competition
The Law and Policy Hack is an exciting competition organized by Pace Law School. In it, students are given a real life problem and work with an interdisciplinary team to propose a solution. Miami Law sent a team for the first time in 2021 and placed in the top three and qualified for the finals. 

United Nations Climate Change Conferences
Professor Jessica Owley and students attended the United Nations COP25 climate change conference in Madrid in December 2019. Owley has applied for the University to become a United Nations accredited observer and UM was provisionally approved for official accredited observer status at the climate change treaty-making talks. She sees the annual meeting as an invaluable learning tool for her U.N. Negotiations course.

Student Organizations

Environmental Law Society - examines policy issues and career opportunities in environmental law and promotes the environmental interests of the school and students to the local and national community. It also hosts lectures and networking opportunities.

Environmental Justice Network - this new organization works to connect students to service projects and get law students on the ground for environmental justice initiatives.

Maritime Law Society - educates its members in the field of maritime law and supports the area’s maritime community via lectures and events with the Admiralty Bar.

Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Society - focuses on several aspects of real estate law including real estate transactions, development, probate, trusts & estates, construction, finance, and hospitality.

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund - enhances the welfare and legal status of all nonhuman animals; its primary goals are to educate concerning the issues and laws that affect animals and to influence positive change.

Partners, Collaborators, Affiliates

University of Miami Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy

University of Miami Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)

U-LINK- University of Miami Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge - this supports multidisciplinary collaborations needed to address complex societal problems; Miami Law was part of a team that was awarded a grant for “On the Move: Climate Migration and Retreat in South Florida, the Caribbean, and Beyond” and was a creator of the Climate and Racial Justice Talks in 2021.

Miami Climate Alliance – our Environmental Justice Clinic collaborates with community partners, such as the Miami Climate Alliance, to further the energy justice movement.

Library

With over 630,000 volumes and volume equivalents (microforms), the Miami Law Library is one of the largest legal research libraries in the Southeast. Among the special subject strengths represented in the collection are ocean law, environmental law, foreign and international law, and a rare books section of documents from complex Everglades litigation.

Lectures / Events

Miami Law host events from the frontrunning lectures on issues in environmental law to networking opportunities. A sampling of past events includes:

Evolution or Collapse? Climate Change and the International Legal Order,” with Professor Maxine A. Burkett, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law, March 2021

Climate and Racial Justice Talk Series: “Cascading Disasters at the Intersection of Underserved Communities,” “Miami Climate Justice Leadership,” and “Miami Climate Justice Activism,” February and March 2021

Resiliency, Climate Change and Redevelopment,” with Neisen Kasdin, December 2020

Debate on Environmental Health Between Miami Law and UM Miller School of Medicine,” October 2020

Department of Florida v. Treasure Salvors, Inc.,” with David Paul Horan, March 2020

The Obligation to Negotiate Access to the Pacific Ocean: The Decision of the International Court of Justice in the case between Bolivia and Chile,” with international and humanitarian law expert Claudio M. Grossman, as part of the Keith C. Wold Maritime Law LL.M. Program Teaching Fund, February 2020

 See More Past Events Relating to Environmental Law

“The Long Road Home: Fighting Climate Change Via the Interstate Highway System,” Professor Blake Hudson, University of Houston Law Center, October 2019

"Litigation Strategies and Practice in Modern Maritime and Cruise Industry Panel," September 2019

Perspectives on Environmental/Climate/Energy Policy in Brazil under the Bolsonaro Government," with Dr. Eduardo Viola, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, University of Brasilia, January 2019

“Behind the Veil: Climate Migration, Regime Shift, and a New Theory of Justice,” Professor Maxine Burkett, University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, February 2018

Climate Wrongs and Human Rights,” University of Miami Law Review 2017 Symposium, February 2017

Law at Sea: Future Issues in Maritime Law,” with Professor Bernard Oxman and Daniel Suman, February 2017

Environmental and Legal Issues at the International Maritime Organization (IMO),”with Frederick Kenney, Jr., the Director of Legal and External Affairs at the International Maritime Organization, January 2016

The South China Sea Arbitration,” with Professor Bernard Oxman, October 2016

"Science and Law for the Anthropocene," with Dr. Dale Jamieson, the Director of Environmental Studies at New York University, January 2013

"The Future of International Environmental Law," with Daniel Magraw, President Emeritus of the Center for International and Environmental Law, and James W. Nickel, UM Professor of Philosophy and Law, September 2013

Fellowships

Miami Law students have received the following fellowships:

Environmental Law Institute’s Public Interest Environmental Law Fellowship

John Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

Everglades Foundation Congressional Fellowship

Chicago Environmental Law and Policy Center Fellowship

Mary Doyle Fellowship – The Doyle Fellowship, a joint initiative between the School of Law and Abess Center, is awarded to extraordinary students admitted into the University’s joint J.D./Abess Center Environmental Science and Policy Ph.D. program. Mary Doyle was the law school dean and Professor of Law who was a co-director of the Abess Center and a co-founder in 2003.

News and Podcasts

News:

Read news stories about environmental law at Miami Law

Miami Law Explainer Podcasts:

S1 E11 The UN Climate Change Report Explained
S3 E2 Gutting the Endangered Species Act
S4 E3 Another U.S. Climate Change Fail
S4 E9 Who Pays to Save the World?
S5 E5 Fire, Poachers, and Pandemic Spell Trouble in the Amazon
S5 E8 Too Late for Environmental Justice?
S6 E13 Energy Justice for All
S7 E4 Linking Poverty and Climate Change