With the establishment of the Beagle/Harvard Law School Fellowship program, HLS has taken a positive step in making environmental law a priority. Working with Joy Covey, the former chief financial officer of Amazon.com and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the school has created a remarkable opportunity for HLS grads to enter the field of environmental law by working for NRDC, in a way mutually beneficial to HLS, NRDC, and students interested in the environment.
Many students interested in public interest work worry about being able to enter the field at a place they desire with a salary they can live on. Many areas of public interest law are crowded with interested people but insufficient funding. Environmental law is one of these areas. Now, HLS students have an advantage in breaking into the field and standing out from the get-go.
That the announcement was made during the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Conference is appropriately symbolic. Hosting a conference on environmental law brings much-needed focus to this neglected area and gives HLS a boost in being recognized as a place that is committed to the field. This, in turn, should help it attract more talented people to come teach environmental law.
The school’s recent progress is laudable but the next step now is to attract those aforementioned talented people. The school at the moment has zero permanent faculty members who are teaching environmental law. While it has done an admirable job of recruiting visiting professors to fill in the gap, ultimately the success of any environmental law program will depend on having a faculty committed to seeing it grow. HLS does an admirable job at attracting the top minds of the legal profession, so it is amazing that it continues to fail in securing any legal scholar to come and establish an environmental law curriculum. Taking steps to bring in permanent faculty would secure the school as a viable place for such work and, in turn, help in attracting more faculty in the field.
Establishing the fellowship is a wonderful step toward advancing the possibilities for those interested in environmental law here at HLS. Now we need to be sure they go into their chosen field equipped with the right legal knowledge. This means having great courses to take, and doing that means getting a great faculty to go with these great courses and this great fellowship.