Congratulations To The Lawyers Who Found Out This Weekend That They Passed The California Bar Exam!

This weekend, the California State Bar announced the results of the July 2021 bar exams. Unfortunately not everybody passes; the California bar exam is the the toughest in the country. But for me, as a teacher, finding out who did pass and will be able to join the legal profession, makes this one of the best times of the year (next to commencement). I always check the public list and send out notes to the former students for whom I have contact info. I also saw some videos of individuals finding out that they past and celebrating – what a joy! Congratulations to all of my former students (and everybody else who passed)! Welcome to the profession.

Hippos as legal persons?

A federal court deemed hippos in Colombia to be “interested persons” under 28 USC 1728, allowing some federal officials to be deposed for a proceedings seeking personhood rights for descendants of Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos. This article and the implications of the legal success in this litigation brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund piqued my interest.

Ordinarily, this would be just a legal oddity, though pretty unusual, since the U.S. courts have generally resisted lawsuits seeking legal personhood status for animals in the past. (For example, there is Tilikum v. Seaworld case (842 F.Supp. 2d 1259 (S.D.Cal. 2012)), where a federal court denied a 13th Amendment slavery claim by PETA on behalf the orca (killer whale) Tilikum for being kept in captivity. And also various unsuccessful habeas corpus cases brought by the leading animal rights lawyer Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Human Rights Project on behalf of chimpanzees kept in captivity.) But this is an interesting development in the context of more recent broader efforts, especially abroad, to accord legal personality and rights to animals and even rivers and landscapes. The best-known and probably most robust of these developments (discussed in the Rights of Nature chapter of our Comparative and Global Environmental Law Casebook) is a New Zealand statute that accords the Whanganui River (Te Awa Tupua) with legal personhood, the Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Act (2017).

While U.S. Magistrate Judge’s Litkovitz’s very short order in this litigation is interesting, it’s unfortunate that the media has jumped on the precarious implications of legal personhood for the hippos. The order itself addresses none of that. Ultimately, 28 U.S.C. 1728 is a procedural code provision designed to facilitate cross-border litigation, sort of like a professional courtesy for judges and lawyers from other countries because the US system has to rely reciprocally on such courtesies when cases here require evidence or testimony from abroad. An Above the Law blog post noted that Colombia does allow animals to bring lawsuits (or for cases to be brought on behalf of them), and so recognizing the state of Colombian law would not necessarily imply a change in US law. Furthermore, while I don’t focus on these procedural issues of law, this code provision has allowed agents of parties in foreign litigation to seek the federal courts’ assistance with witness testimony/depositions, just as the lawyers for the hippos (the animals’ supposed agents) have done here. So, unfortunately, the screaming headlines are overreaching by a lot. But what’s new about that . . .

Anyway, really interesting legal development; but likely of limited legal significance. (But significant enough that we’ll probably include a reference to it in the next edition of our casebook.)

Position (updated Oct. 11, 2021 with upgraded position): Santa Clara Law School, Center for Global Law and Policy, Senior Program Manager (Santa Clara, CA)

As I posted previously, the Center for Global Law and Policy was looking for a program manager for our Center programs. We recently received approval to upgrade the position to Senior Program Manager (compensation commensurate with qualifications) and thus have re-posted the job position to reflect that change. The link to Santa Clara University’s Workday listing (the University’s human resources job listings website) remains the same (but now shows the updated position title). For reference, here it is again:

In a nutshell, the Senior Program Manager for the Center for Global Law and Policy is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Center, which includes both planning and providing operational support for the Center’s nine summer study-abroad programs in Asia and Australia, Europe, and Latin America, administering the Center’s International Law Certificates options and student exchange programs, and supporting all other aspects of the Center’s activities. For additional information for the Center for Global Law and Policy, please see CGLP’s website.

We will take resumes until the position is filled. However, for priority consideration, please submit application materials (cover letter, resume or CV, and references) by October 24, 2021. The materials should be submitted directly via the Workday job listing (which can be reached via the provided link).

Please share this job opportunity with anybody who might be interested.

Position: Santa Clara Law School, Center for Global Law and Policy, Program Manager (Santa Clara, CA)

Please note the October 11, 2021 update on this position.


Oh no! The Center for Global Law and Policy’s current program manager Hallie Bodey is leaving us for another opportunity (that comes with a promotion) at Santa Clara University. So we are looking for a person to fill her big shoes. (We’ll take resumes until the position is filled, but please submit soon since we are starting to review job applications right away.) Here is a link to the Santa Clara University’s Workday posting for this position, which also includes a detailed description of the job responsibilities:

(And yes, this position would report to me.)

Fellowship: California Lawyers Association, Environmental Law Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship Program (Deadline: Oct. 25, 2021)

For Summer 2022:

This is a terrific opportunity for law students. One of my students spent a summer with Earthjustice through this fellowship and had a great experience.

California Lawyers Association – Environmental Law Section Webinar: Intro to Environmental Law Series – Water Law 101, Sept. 2, 12 noon California Time (Free Registration)

The Cal Bar Environmental Law Section is running a series of basic introductory webinars to environmental law. I watched the intro to Air Pollution Law (Air Quality Law 101) last week, and it was an excellent introduction to air pollution law suitable for law students or junior lawyers who have had little or no exposure environmental law. I highly recommend it for law students interested in environmental law. I’ll post the link to the recorded presentations when the Section makes it available. (By the way, these webinar definitely have a California emphasis – but then again California is the most important state jurisdiction for environmental law purposes . . . . that was a joke.)

For those interested in a basic intro to water law (which would include both pollution and water rights, I assume), there is another webinar coming up. Registration is free. Here is a link for the registration and also a short description of the webinar below:

From the notice about this webinar series:

“Interested in the practice of environmental law? Running into basic environmental issues in your field of law? The Environmental Law Section and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) are excited to co-present this free series covering key practice areas within the environmental legal field. This series is geared toward law students, new lawyers, and even experienced attorneys interested in learning more about environmental law.”

“Participants will receive a “101” level introduction to the practice area from private, government, and non-profit lawyers. Each panel will include a high-level overview of the basic legal framework, real-life project examples, and a question-and-answer session for attendees to meet members practicing in the field. This year’s series will conclude with a primer on the Environmental Law Section’s 30th annual Yosemite Conference, scheduled for October 14-17, 2021.”

Law Students for Climate Accountability, 2021 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard

The Law Students for Climate Accountability recently published their “2021 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard.”

This seems to be a really interesting resource for law students or lawyers who are concerned about climate change and other environmental issues and therefore would like to choose law firm employers with that in mind. The report only reviews large law firms that are profiled on the website (My law firm days are so far in the distant past that I am no longer familiar with the various law firm ranking organizations.) Suffice it say though, the LS4CA scorecard seems to grade law firms on how responsible they are with respect to their work on climate/environmental issues, i.e. are they making things worse or helping to make things better on climate and the environment through their legal representations in litigation, transactions, and lobbying matters? The score card assigns law firms with grades ranging from A to F.

I would recommend this report to any of my students who care about the social responsibility of lawyers, especially those who are interested in an environmental law practice in a private law firm setting.

However, a closer examination also leaves me scratching my head. While I am not familiar with all of the law firms that are included in the scorecard (especially their practice specialties and strengths), the inclusion of some firms seems odd. (Of course, as I mentioned, I am not particularly close to private law firm environmental law practice these days.) For example, Wilson Sonsini (A) and Fenwick West (B) are big Silicon Valley firms that cater to a tech clientele; Littler Mendelson (B) is primarily an employment/labor law firm; Fish and Richardson (B) does primarily intellectual property/patent work. As far as I can tell, none of these firms have significant environmental law/climate change law practices, whether regulatory, transactional, or litigation-focused.

On the other end of the score card (grades D and F) are many of the firms that I think of as having major environmental law practices: Latham & Watkins, Morrison Foerster, Gibson Dunn, Perkins Coie, Pillsbury Winthrop, Arnold & Porter, Sidley Austin, etc. These firms have a group of very experienced environmental law practitioners and interesting work and could thus provide really valuable training for junior lawyers.

I didn’t look carefully at the study methodology, but there is no reason to think that the measures don’t reflect something problematic about the work of the ranked firms. However, maybe there is also something else going on, which may be more obvious — if one wants to practice environmental law in a large private/commercial law firm, it is very difficult to represent “green” interests/clients. Inherently in the nature of private lawyers being “hired guns,” environmental law practice in a private firm setting is going to skew overwhelmingly to the representation of polluters and organizations that use up/degrade natural resources. Those are the paying clients. Which is of course why most students who are committed to “green” causes end up doing NGO or government work. And it seems that the law firms that come out most positively with respect to the environment on the scorecard are the firms that don’t really do much environmental law work in the first place (at least not in a traditional environmental law practice).

So, maybe the take-away from the scorecard for aspiring young environmental lawyers is this — don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can do positive environmental/climate work at a traditional large law firm. OK, that’s probably overstating the point, but something like that is probably the bottom line. (OK, OK – this is also contrary to what I usually advise my students – that even in a large law firm/corporate environmental law practice, you can still do good for the environment by advising and directing your client toward the environmentally responsible course of action. However, this scorecard seems to suggest that there is a serious limitation to that kind of thinking.)

Position: Univ. of New Mexico Law School, Assistant Prof in Nat. Resources & Env. Law (Deadline – Sept. 15, 2021, Albuquerque, NM)

Assistant Professor in Natural Resources and Environmental Law 

The University of New Mexico School of Law invites applications from entry-level candidates for a tenure-track faculty position at the rank of Assistant Professor in its Natural Resources and Environmental Law (NREL) Program to begin August 1, 2022. The school’s NREL Program includes a NREL Certificate, the Natural Resources Journal, and the NREL Clinic. We seek candidates with scholarly distinction or promise, as well as a commitment to excellence in teaching. Candidates must hold a J.D. or equivalent degree by the date of their application. For budgetary reasons, we have a strong preference for someone who graduated from law school in the past three to five years. 

The School of Law offers a variety of NREL courses, emphasizing issues relevant to New Mexico and the Western United States. In addition, the School of Law explicitly acknowledges the substantial overlap between the Law and Indigenous Peoples Program and the NREL Program, and has a longstanding history of offering students courses and other resources at the intersection of these fields. The successful applicant will devote a significant portion of teaching and research at the intersection of these fields, and will also periodically rotate into the NREL Clinic. 

Offering a J.D. degree, cross-disciplinary dual degrees, and a Masters of Legal Studies, the UNM School of Law is nationally recognized for NREL, including its clinic, and innovative classes that combine law practice skills training with doctrinal instruction and a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio.  

Please direct questions to Laura Spitz, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee ( For full consideration, applicants should apply by September 15, although we recommend that you submit your materials as soon as possible. To view the complete job description and apply, please visit

UNM is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.  

Faculty Position: Florida International University Law School, Tenure Track Faculty (environmental Law Interest, start Fall 2022) (Deadline: Ongoing/Aug. 23, 2021, Miami, FL)

Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of Law (multiple positions)

South Florida’s public law school in Miami, Florida International University College of Law, invites applicants for multiple tenure, tenure-track, and contract positions to begin no later than the 2022-2023 academic year.  In particular, we seek candidates to teach environmental law and courses in other priority areas, such as cyberlaw, torts, wills & trusts, health law, family law, and administrative law. A typical package might include two environmental law courses and at least one (preferably two) in our identified priorities. International experience, academic entrepreneurship, and acumen in grants and external funding are welcome but not required.  Given our growing focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, some of these positions may involve joint appointments with other academic units at FIU. 

In partnership with the administration, the FIU faculty have created a welcoming and intellectually vibrant community that celebrates lifelong scholarly engagement, nurturing students, public service, academic freedom, and transformational teaching.  Faculty relationships are based on mutual regard, respect and appreciation for differences, academic rigor, and a shared commitment to our rising national profile.  Our faculty are professional leaders in their fields locally, nationally, and internationally.  The faculty’s substantial scholarly output includes law review articles, academic monographs, collaborative work with colleagues from other disciplines, edited anthologies, peer-reviewed work, and op-eds.  The College supports the faculty with research assistance, summer stipends, travel funds, and performance awards.

The Florida Legislature established FIU Law in 2001 to deliver an affordable and excellent legal education that provides inspired teaching, training for a globalized marketplace, support for community service, and the highest standards of professionalism.  FIU Law ranks as the third most diverse law school nationally, and the first in the country among public law schools for Hispanic enrollment.  A majority of our students are the first in their family to attend college. To us, student success means demonstrable professional outcomes.  FIU Law graduates have ranked first among the 11 law schools in the state on the last 6 mid-year administrations of the Florida bar exam.  In 2020, 92% of our graduates secured full time, long term bar passage required, J.D. advantage, or professional positions.  Our state-of-the-art building was designed by Robert Stern.  For more information about FIU Law, visit

FIU is Miami’s public urban research university, offering more than 180 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, and medicine.  It is a top 100 public university ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges. With nearly $200 million in annual research expenditures, the University has a Carnegie R1 rating (“highest research activity”).  A leader in securing performance-based funding for its operational achievements, the University was recently designated by the Florida Board of Governors as an emerging preeminent university.  For more information about FIU, visit

Candidates must have a J.D. degree (or its equivalent), a strong academic record, a track record (or the promise) of scholarly achievement, and zest for effective teaching.  Rank will be determined based on qualifications and experience.  Competitive benefits include excellent insurance options, a defined-benefit plan, defined-contribution plans, and a deferred compensation plan.

Applicants should send a CV, a cover letter outlining curricular strengths and scholarly interests, and a list of references to the chair of the Appointments Committee, Professor José Gabilondo (, to whom questions about these positions can be directed.  Applicants can also apply through referencing job opening ID 524569 or by using the following link FIU Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of Law. Review will begin August 23, 2021 and continue until these positions are filled.

FIU is a member of the State University System of Florida and an Equal Opportunity, Equal Access Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliation, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

Faculty Position: Southern Methodist University Law School, Junior/Lateral Tenure Track Faculty (start Fall 2022) (Environmental Law Interest) (Deadline: Ongoing/Oct. 1, 2021, Dallas, TX)

SMU Dedman School of Law is hiring. We are looking for junior scholars and laterals in the areas of Civil Procedure and Property, and are particularly interested in candidates with a secondary focus on Intellectual Property or Environmental Law. Please see the job advertisement below.

THE SMU DEDMAN SCHOOL OF LAW is seeking applications from qualified persons for tenure track faculty positions to begin Fall of 2022. We are particularly interested in candidates with expertise in Civil Procedure, and in Property with a secondary focus on Intellectual Property or Environmental Law. We will consider both experienced and beginning teachers with excellent legal credentials and scholarly distinction or promise. Candidates must hold a J.D. To ensure full consideration for the positions, applications must be received by October 1, 2021, but the committee will continue to accept applications until the positions are filled.

Applications must be submitted electronically via Interfolio ( and should include a cover letter, resume, research agenda, writing sample(s) and a list of references. Reference Position No. and (Area of Law) in which you are applying: 00006285 (Civil Procedure), and 00006289 (Property).

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,