[UF LAW eNews - a publication of the Levin College of Law @ the University of Florida]

Home | Print article | Contact eNews

UF offers nation’s first master’s degree in environmental and land use law


In a world grappling with critical shortages of water, increasing developmental pressures and the unknown but real threats of climate change, environmental and land use law policies and applications are changing almost as fast as the weather.

To prepare a new generation of environmental lawyers to meet these challenges, the University of Florida Levin College of Law now offers a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Environmental and Land Use Law. Although other law schools offer LL.M. degrees in environmental law and related areas, UF’s program is the first to combine environmental and land use law in a one-year, post-juris doctor degree.

“The environmental problems we’re facing are so fundamental and serious that the laws and policies we will need to adopt are inevitably going to go beyond the bounds of what we have traditionally thought of as environmental law,” said Alyson Flournoy, UF professor of law, research foundation professor and director of the college’s Environmental and Land Use Law Program.

Flournoy notes that many corporate lawyers who don’t think of themselves as environmental attorneys will need to understand environmental law issues to practice in emerging fields of environmental law. She points to the growing importance of carbon markets and efforts to value and  protect ecosystem services as examples of the changing legal landscape that may prompt traditional corporate lawyers to seek a broader understanding of environmental and land use law.

“We need a new generation of environmental lawyers who focus on drafting instruments and contracts that satisfy both environmental and business concerns,” she said.  “We are finally coming to grips with the fact that ‘business as usual’ is unsustainable.  Corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations will need to hire new lawyers who blend traditional skills with a broader knowledge of environmental laws and policy.”

Flournoy said the LL.M. program will educate students on the historical and legal underpinnings of environmental and land use law policies, and will encourage them to think creatively to innovate solutions to pressing environmental and related social issues. A major strength of the program is the diversity of faculty, which has expertise in a wide array of fields covering environmental law, water law, international trade, land use law, natural resources law and others.

In addition, the LL.M. program is unique in that six of the 26 required credit hours must be from relevant courses that have substantial non-law content — either offered outside the Levin College of Law or jointly by the law school and another department. This exposes students to disciplines related to environmental and land use law practice, such as wildlife ecology, environmental engineering, urban and regional planning, and sustainable development.

LL.M. candidates also must complete a written project in connection with a seminar or the college’s Conservation Clinic. The Conservation Clinic focuses on non-litigation policy and transactional projects, providing a hands-on learning laboratory for the college’s LL.M. students. A summer environmental law study abroad program in Costa Rica is also offered.

“Florida’s new LL.M. program is at the cutting edge of environmental legal education, combining different specialties from within the practice of law, like land use and environmental law, and adding to that a non-law, interdisciplinary component that includes science and engineering coursework,” said Wendy A. Wagner, the Joe. A. Worsham Centennial Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law and a leading authority on the use of science by environmental policy-makers.

The University of Florida Levin College of Law LL.M. in Environmental and Land Use Law Program is now accepting applications for the class entering in fall 2009. For application instructions and detailed program information, contact Lena Hinson at 352-273-0777 or hinson@law.ufl.edu, or visit www.law.ufl.edu/elulp/llm.

Home | Print article | Contact eNews