Running the San Jose Half Marathon Today

img_1506I finished the San Jose Half Marathon in 2:23:51 today, more than 15 minutes faster than I had expected.  My running group included my good friend Professor Frank Wu (of Hastings College of Law) and Professor Carol Suzuki (of Univ. New Mexico Law School).  My friend Frank let me win, as a sign of respect for an elder — in fact, he let me win convincingly (by more than five minutes) so that it would like it was real.

At the finish line, I ran into my former student Parminder, who graduated last year.  Below are a few pictures of me at mile 9, with Parminder, with my spouse Tinling and daughter Gwen-Zoe, and an after-race lunch photo with Frank and Carol.  There will probably be a rematch in the coming months.


In Memory of Sun Yat-sen University Law Professor Cai Yanmin

caiyanminI am deeply saddened to share that Sun Yat-sen University Law Professor Cai Yanmin passed away on Monday in Guangzhou, China.  Professor Cai was truly a trail-blazer in her efforts to establish clinical legal education in Chinese law schools as well as her contributions as part of the legal clinic at SYSU to help migrant workers fight for their rights. She  served as Deputy Vice Dean of SYSU Law School in the early 2000s, as a member of the Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress, and as a member of the World Fellows Program at Yale University.  But in my mind, one of her most important contributions was to build bridges between American and Chinese legal academics, lawyers, and anybody else interested in promoting the rule of law.

I knew her as a warm and kind person with a keen intellect and generous spirit.  When I first met her, while I was still a member of the Vermont Law School faculty, she was Deputy Vice Dean of Sun Yat-sen University and interested in advancing the environmental law program at SYSU.  It was through her instrumental role and support that Vermont Law School was able to partner with SYSU Law School, later creating a long-running program (the US-China Partnership for Environmental Law), funded by USAID and the State Department, to provide  environmental law training and capacity-building in China.  Jinjing Liu, a friend and former colleague who worked with me on the VLS-SYSU Partnership, was a student of Professor Cai.  .

Here is a link to the SYSU Announcment.   Below is a pictures of me with her and her husband when I visited Sun Yat-sen University in 2003. I will dearly miss her.




US and China ratify Paris Climate Agreement

Crb5YS4WIAARlmHThe big announcement today was the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement by the U.S. and China.  (Strictly speaking, the US instrument is an instrument of acceptance.  Image of acceptance instrument is from White House website.)  Specifically, while at the G-20 meeting in Hangzhou, China, President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping delivered their countries’ respective instruments of ratification to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who is the official depositary for the agreement.  (Washington Post article 9/3/2016.)  The secretariat of the Paris Agreement has already updated the ratification status of the Paris Agreement to include the US and China, showing now 26 countries as parties and representing a total of 39.06% of global GHG emissions.

Under article 21 of the Paris Agreement, this agreement enters into force (and thus becomes legally effective) “on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.”   Thus, there is still a little bit to go before entry into force.  Ironically, almost all of the progress toward the 55% global GHG emission threshold for entry-into-force came from China and US joining of the treaty.  The previous 24 countries were almost all small states,  many of them tiny island nations, the largest countries being Norway and Peru.  The Washington Post article has a nice set of numbers of GHG emissions by some key countries.

As the Post article also mentions, effective implementation of the agreement is going to be heavily dependent on the outcome of the U.S. elections, since it is not likely that Trump will support U.S. membership.  On the other hand, the legal obligations attached to the Paris Agreement are fairly minimal, and there are no apparent legal consequences that non-compliance would have.

However, here is a thing that the Post article  got wrong and another issue that leaves some uncertainty for the agreement’s prospects.  Even though article 28 of the Paris prohibits withdrawal from the agreement during the first three years of the agreement and requires a year’s notice before a withdrawal can become effective, that does not mean that a country would have to stay in the agreement for the first 4 years.  If a country gave notice of withdrawal after 2 years, the withdrawal would become effective after the 3 year mandatory membership period would have ended.

The other issue that the Post article leaves unclear is what happens if Trump does win the election, but the Paris Agreement has not entered into force by January 20, 2017, when the next President takes office.  In that case, the 3-year-mandatory membership period would not have been triggered, since the agreement would not be in force, yet.  It seems likely that under international law a country would still be able to withdraw its instrument of ratification/approval and hence avoid treaty membership once the agreement were to enter into force.  Of course, such a situation will hopefully not occur.

And so, without thinking about all the things that could still go wrong with the Paris Agreement, today is a good day for those care about the fight against climate change.






Position: USDA, Office of General Counsel, Attorney Advisor (Natural Resources and Environment Division) (Deadline: Sept. 26, 2016, Washington, DC)

The position appears to be open to new attorneys.

Attorney Advisor


Agency Contact Information

  • 1 vacancy – Washington DC, DC
Work Schedule is Full-Time – Permanent

Opened Monday 8/29/2016(1 day(s) ago)

Closes Monday 9/26/2016(27 day(s) away)

  • Salary Range

    $64,650.00 to $84,044.00 / Per Year

  • Series & Grade


  • Promotion Potential


  • Supervisory Status


  • Who May Apply

    US Citizens and Nationals; no prior Federal experience is required.

  • Control Number


  • Job Announcement Number


Job Overview


This position is located in the Natural Resources and Environment Division (NRED) of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), Department of Agriculture. NRED provides legal counsel, advice and services to the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service with regard to natural resource and environmental law. The primary purpose of this position is to provide professional legal services to these agencies with regard to mineral and mining law, special use permit administration, and water law.

USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.  Our vision is to expand economic opportunity through innovation, helping rural America to thrive; to promote agriculture production sustainability that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world; and to preserve and conserve our Nation’s natural resources through restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands.

The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is an independent legal agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel provide legal advice and services to the Secretary of Agriculture and all other officials and agencies of the Department with respect to all USDA programs and activities.  The primary purpose of the position is to provide professional legal services to major components of USDA and its agencies within the geographic area of the assigned office.

Pay Scale:
This position will start at the GS-11 level however, the full performance level is a GS-14.  Listed below are the salary ranges for each grade level.

GS-11:  $64,650 – $84,044
GS-12:  $77,490 – $100,736
GS-13:  $92,145- $119,794
GS-14:  $108,887 – $141,555

Please Note: Applicants must have 52 weeks of time-in-grade at the next lower grade level (or its equivalent) in order to move to the next higher grade level.


Conducting legal research and advising agency officials and OGC attorneys on complex legal questions, preparing pleadings, motions, briefs and other related documents, determining the nature of action along with the legal issues involved and the most effective course of action and the most advantageous legal strategies.

Advising USDA agency officials and other OGC attorneys on complex legal questions or factual issues and recommending final action on many matters regarding litigation.

Serving as a liaison between the U.S. Attorney’s Offices or Department of Justice and USDA agencies and officials.

Conducting extensive research to ensure any advice is based on a sound understanding of relevant facts and law, anticipating significant foreseeable consequences of advice and recommended actions to ensure that decisions made and actions taken are practical, effective, legally sound and supportable.

Reviewing certain agency reports, documents, and policy statements for legal sufficiency; conducting all legal research related to the above matters; and acting as a legal advisor to the administrative officials of the Department.

Negotiating with highly skilled and knowledgeable opposing counsel while acting within the parameters of delegated authority consistent with statutory authority and agency policy and objectives.

Planning, organizing, and conducting independent activities required in furnishing the legal services assigned.

Performing legal services in areas pertaining to the application of the complex United States mineral laws to various categories of National Forest System lands, the assessment of rights created by mining claims, mineral leases, and mineral sales contracts, the regulation of operations on mining claims, the authorization of mineral leasing and regulation of off-lease access and facilities, the withdrawal of land from the United States mineral laws, the authorization and regulation of oil and gas pipelines, the issuance and administration of discretionary permits authorizing other uses of National Forest System lands, and general administrative law.

Developing expertise in the minerals, special use permit administration, and water law practice areas and providing training to clients as needed.

Drafting of legal opinions, memoranda and regulations related to federal mineral laws and related topics.

Travel Required

  • Occasional Travel
  • Travel depends on the needs of the office.

Relocation Authorized

  • No
Job Requirements

Job Requirements

Key Requirements

  • US Citizenship is required.
  • Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959.
  • Cover Letter, Resume and Law School Transcripts are mandatory documents.
  • Proof of Bar Membership (if admitted) is also a mandatory document.



Applicants should have demonstrated experience in legal research, and have excellent writing and communication skills, and a strong academic record.

USDA handles a wide array of legal issues impacting all facets of the practice of law with the federal government and programs operated by USDA.  Examples include work on commercial matters such as financing and securing loans touching on commercial lending, bankruptcy and foreclosure issues; personnel issues involving claims of discrimination; agriculture matters involving programs operated by USDA; and contract claims involving the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.


Education: An applicant must have successfully completed a full course of study in a school of law accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) and have the first professional law degree (LLB or JD) at time of entry on duty.

Bar Membership: Applicant must currently be either a  member, (either active or inactive), in good standing of the bar or be a candidate for admission to the bar of a state, territory of the United States, District of Columbia, or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Selectee must have an active bar license at time of entry on duty.


•  If you are newly hired, the documentation you present for purposes of completing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Form I-9 on your entry-on-duty date will be verified through the DHS “E-VERIFY” system. Federal law requires the use of E-VERIFY to confirm the employment eligibility of all new hires. Under this system, the new hire is required to resolve any identified discrepancies as a condition of continued employment.
•  To be eligible for appointment to this position, the new hire must be cleared to come on board once the results of the fingerprint check, review of the OF-306, Declaration for Federal Employment, and the candidate’s Electronic Questionnaires for Investigations Processing (eQIP) entries have been reviewed and determined to be satisfactory.  This position requires a favorable credit check as part of the background investigation.
•  Selectee must be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance.
•  May be subject to satisfactory completion of one-year probationary or trial period.
•  Additional selections may be made from this announcement.

Security Clearance

Public Trust – Background Investigation

Department Of Agriculture

Office of the General Counsel


Angela Ervin
Phone: 202-239-4528

TDD: (800) 877-8339


Office of the General Counsel
1400 Independence Ave., SW RM 2039
Washington, D.C.

United States

Fax: 202-720-5013

Position: Pace University Law School, Chair in Environmental Law (Deadline: unknown, White Plains, NY)

Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law seeks to hire a full-time tenured faculty member for an endowed chair in Environmental Law including, broadly, energy law, land use law, natural resources law, and international environmental law.

Candidates should have outstanding writing skills, demonstrated records of scholarly achievement and a strong commitment to enriching both our curriculum and our academic community.

Applications are especially encouraged from people of color, individuals of varied sexual and affectational orientations, individuals who are differently-abled, veterans of the armed forces or national service, and anyone whose background and experience will contribute to the diversity of our faculty. Pace is committed to achieving completely equal opportunity in all aspects of University life.

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law is located in suburban White Plains, New York, in Westchester County, approximately 20 miles north of New York City. Our reputation and strong financial aid and scholarship program attract diverse and talented students from several states and a number of foreign countries.

Please direct inquiries and letters of interest to Jennifer Chin, assistant to the Appointments Committee, at

Position: United Nations Environment Programme, Dept. of Environmental Law and Conventions, Deputy Director (deadline: Aug. 5, Nairobi, Kenya)





Duty Station:NAIROBI

Posting Period:07 June 2016 – 05 August 2016

Job Opening Number:56631

Staffing ExerciseN/A


Special Notice

Appointment against this post is for an initial period of one year and may be subject to extension. Staff members are subject to the authority of the Secretary-General and to assignment by him or her. In this context, all staff are expected to move periodically to new functions in their careers in accordance with established rules and procedures.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply on-line as soon as possible after the job opening has been posted and well before the deadline stated in the job opening. On-line applications will be acknowledged where an email address has been provided.

If you do not receive an e-mail acknowledgement within 24 hours of submission, your application may not have been received.. If the problem persists, please seek technical assistance through the Inspira “Need Help?” link.

Org. Setting and Reporting

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. This position is located in the Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC), at UNEP’s Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. DELC is the lead Division charged with carrying out the functions of UNEP in the field of environmental law, governance and related policy issues, including those related to development and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). The incumbent reports to the Director. Under the delegated authority, the incumbent is responsible for:


1) Support the Director in the management and administration of the Division: undertake and supervise the day-to-day management and administration of the Division; serve as officer in charge in the absence of the Director; coordinate with the relevant offices on handling of management and administrative issues and for delivery of programmatic outputs and services.

2) Serve as Principal legal advisor: Provide legal advice on the interpretation and application of relevant legal instruments and institutional arrangements, recommend ways to handle legal issues concerned, and undertake or direct necessary actions.

3) Promote and catalyze actions by Governments for their implementation of internationally agreed environmental goals and objectives through development and implementation of environmental law and strengthening of relevant institutions at the international and national levels.

4) Direct staff to analyze emerging and important policy issues in the environmental dimension of sustainable development, recommend legal and institutional response measures to address such issues, and direct and coordinate staff to promote the development and implementation of such measures in response to 2030 Development Agenda.

5) Oversee the planning, monitoring and implementation of the administration of human resources; directs the development of the Programme of Work of the Division and monitor its implementation, direct, supervise and manage performance of staff.

6) Perform other related duties as required.


•Professionalism: Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations.

•Planning& Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.

•Accountability: Takes ownership of all responsibilities and honours commitments; delivers outputs for which one has responsibility within prescribed time, cost and quality standards; operates in compliance with organizational regulations and rules; supports subordinates, provides oversight and takes responsibility for delegated assignments; takes personal responsibility for his/her own shortcomings and those of the work unit, where applicable.

•Leadership: Serves as a role model that other people want to follow: empowers others to translate vision into results; is proactive in developing strategies to accomplish objectives; establishes and maintains relationships with a broad range of people to understand needs and gain support; anticipates and resolves conflicts by pursuing mutually agreeable solutions; drives for change and improvements; does not accept the status quo; shows the courage to take unpopular stands.

•Vision: Identifies strategic issues, opportunities and risks; clearly communicates links between the Organization’s strategy and the work unit’s goals; generates and communicates broad and compelling organizational direction, inspiring others to pursue that same direction; conveys enthusiasm about future possibilities.


Advanced university degree (Master’s degree or equivalent) in international law, international environmental law or in a related area. A first-level university degree in combination with two additional years of qualifying experience may be accepted in lieu of the advanced university degree.

Work Experience

A minimum of fifteen years of progressively responsible experience in development and implementation of international law with emphasis on international environmental law or related area is required. Proven management skills including funding and human resources management. Years of relevant experience at the international level, five of which should be at the United Nations will be an added advantage. In addition, good and proven knowledge and experience of institutional legal matters related to managing legal processes of international organizations will be added advantage.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For the position advertised, fluency in English is required. Knowledge of a second official United Nations language is an advantage.


Evaluation of qualified applicants for this position may include an assessment exercise which may be followed by a competency-based interview.

United Nations Considerations

Candidates will be required to meet the requirements of Article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter as well as the requirements of the position. The United Nations is committed to the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity for all its human resources, including but not limited to respect for international human rights and humanitarian law. Candidates may be subject to screening against these standards, including but not limited to whether they have committed, or are alleged to have committed criminal offences and/or violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs. (Charter of the United Nations – Chapter 3, article 8). The United Nations Secretariat is a non-smoking environment.

Applicants are urged to follow carefully all instructions available in the online recruitment platform, inspira. For more detailed guidance, applicants may refer to the At-a-Glance on “The Application Process” and the Instructional Manual for the Applicants, which can be accessed by clicking on “Manuals” hyper-link on the upper right side of inspira account-holder homepage.

Applications are pre-screened by the system according to the published requirements of the job opening on the basis of the information provided in the application. In relation to the requirements of the job opening, applicants must provide complete and accurate information pertaining to their qualifications, including their education, work experience, and language skills. Each applicant must bear in mind that submission of incomplete or inaccurate applications may render that applicant ineligible for consideration for the job opening. Initial screening and evaluation of applications will be conducted on the basis of the information submitted. Applications cannot be amended following submission. Candidates under serious consideration for selection will be subject to a reference-checking process to verify the information provided in the application.

Job openings advertised on the Careers Portal will be removed at midnight (New York time) on the deadline date.

No Fee


Fellowship: Environmental Defense Fund, Legal Fellow (deadline: unspecified/rolling, Washington, DC)

(go to job ad page for a direct link to submit application online)

Legal Fellow

Legal FellowClimate and Energy – LegalWashington, DC

With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. This leading green group, with programs from Boston to Beijing, has tripled in size over the past decade by focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches. You can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents, and contributions, where innovation and a focus on results are a way of life.

Overall FunctionEnvironmental Defense Fund’s Washington, DC office is seeking a highly qualified and deeply motivated legal fellow to work on projects related to climate, air quality, and energy, with particular focus on reducing climate-destabilizing carbon pollution from the electric power sector.

Key ResponsibilitiesThe Legal Fellow works closely with the rest of the legal team on a dynamic mix of legal and regulatory advocacy aimed to secure effective greenhouse gas mitigation and cleaner air.  The work ranges from strategy sessions about what legal arguments will be most effective in a specific briefing effort to intensive legal research on cutting-edge environmental law questions to the development of comments to advocate for and support the development of protective environmental standards

Previous legal fellows have researched, written, and presented legal and policy documents for federal court litigation, administrative litigation, national and state regulatory proceedings, and various policy venues. Current legal fellows have been deeply engaged in D.C. Circuit litigation over greenhouse gas and toxic air pollution regulation under the Clean Air Act; litigation challenging California’s landmark climate program; major national and regional policy initiatives on air quality and climate change; protection of air quality and ecological systems in national parks; and the development of emission standards for oil and gas development.

QualificationsWe seek recent law school graduates interested in working on cutting edge regional, national, and international climate and air quality issues. Other qualifications include:

  • Licensed to practice law or actively seeking admission to Bar, with background in environmental and administrative law.
  • Ability to collect, manipulate, analyze, and interpret legal data and prepare reports of findings.
  • Excellent legal research, analytical, writing and advocacy skills.
  • Establishes and maintains strong working relationships with internal and external allies.
  • Results-oriented, self-starter with the ability to think strategically and work on fast-paced, dynamic issues.
  • Ability to work both independently and as a leader or member of teams in a dynamic and creative environment with colleagues and partners of varied background and experience. Able to prioritize and be flexible.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Computer proficiency, experience with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

LocationWashington, DC

TermThis is a one-year fellowship

HoursFull-time (35 hours/week)

Application MaterialsInterested applicants should attach their cover letter and resume to the EDF application, together with a writing sample.

Due to the volume of employment applications and queries received, EDF is unable to respond to each application individually. Applicants will be contacted directly if selected as a candidate.