The University of Chicago Law School will launch its new Abrams Environmental Law Clinic in January.
It will be led by the former director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Mark Templeton, 42, said dean Michael H. Schill of the law school.
The clinic will begin with a survey of the key environmental issues in the Chicago area, in Illinois and in the Great Lakes region, Templeton said.
It will try "to identify the most important issues and the ones that may not be receiving the most attention."
He said he wants to "complement the efforts of other organizations" that work on the environment.
"We intend to sue enterprises that are polluting illegally, to challenge permits that may be insufficient to protect the environment, to push for stronger rules and regulations … to improve environmental protection," Templeton said, "and to leverage some of the best ideas at the University of Chicago" on the environment.
At its launch, the clinic will consist of Templeton and a yet unknown number of students who will work under him.
Templeton has most recently been the first executive director of the Office of the Independent Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust.
He helped oversee a $20 billion fund established by the oil company BP to compensate for damages from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He said the trust paid about $6.5 billion to date.
He was head of the Department of Natural Resources in Missouri from early 2009 through August 2010, and he was associate dean for finance and administration at Yale Law School, where he got his law degree, from 2005 through 2009.
Asked to describe some of his overall views on the environment, Templeton said:
• "We need to continue to make efforts on improving water quality in the Great Lakes Region."
• "Clearly climate change mitigation and adaptation are major issues facing the country."
• Society needs to think more about the "interrelationship" of environmental issues.
As an example of the last, he said coal fired power plants "emit pollutants into the air." Some of those pollutants fall into rivers and streams and affect water quality. And coal fired plants produce ash that must be stored on land.
Coal generated 44.5 percent of U.S. electric power as of 2009, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Templeton proposed as the four primary emerging substitutes for coal:
• Wind energy.
• Solar energy.
• Energy produced from "biomass," or crop waste and food waste.
• Energy efficiency.
Schill said the new clinic is the first step in the planned expansion of the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic to give clinical experience to all law students.
The clinic is named after James D. Abrams, a 1987 graduate of the law school who is chief operating officer of Medline Industries, and his wife, Wendy, a trustee of the Waterkeeper Alliance, devoted to preserving and protecting water.
Schill said, "Mark Templeton has done high-level work in the environmental field and his background in business and politics gives him a unique and valuable perspective on how industry and governmental actors approach environmental policy making and litigation."
Inn of Court visits law schools
About 60 lawyers and three federal judges, members of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court, offered "professionalism and practical tips programs" for students at eight law schools during the week of Nov. 14 through 18.
Panel discussions were followed by one-on-one mentoring talks with the law students who attended, said Olivia T. Luk of Jenner & Block LLP, who is president of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court.
Students were advised to start practicing professionalism, civility and ethics in law school, for example, in classes, in moot court, and while interviewing, Luk said.
Also, "we answered a lot of questions law students asked about what they should do to be a good associate in a law firm," Luk said, and "questions about law firm life."
The 60 members out of the group's 150 split up to travel to DePaul University College of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, The John Marshall Law School, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Northwestern University School of Law, the University of Chicago Law School and Notre Dame Law School.
A similar event was also hosted for students from the University of Illinois College of Law in the offices of Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione in Chicago.
The judges were Chief Judge James F. Holderman of U.S. District Court here, and U.S. District Court judges Matthew F. Kennelly and Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.
The format for the outreach program was first suggested by Michael Comeau, a third-year student at DePaul Law, according to a report on the outreach effort prepared by Holderman. Comeau is a student member of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court.
The organizing effort was led by Steven J. Reynolds of DLA Piper and Molly Mosley-Goren of IPD Analytics.
Wasim K. Bleibel of Levenfeld, Pearlstein LLC, a member of the Richard Linn American Inn of Court, said its members typically assemble once a month to discuss a topic in intellectual property law. He took part in the outreach program.