Energy law has been a core component of the environmental law curriculum at GW since the program’s inception. The environmental impacts of energy production, including initiatives for the development of alternative energy technology, continue to place energy matters at the forefront of environmental law conversations. Our curriculum provides students with the tools necessary to think critically about and act upon these issues, with courses in areas such as utility regulation, climate change, energy commodities trading, environmental impacts of facilities siting, and property interests in natural resources. Course offerings provide students with grounding in the oil and gas sector, the electric sector (including renewables), and the nuclear industry, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and the relationship of energy and the environment throughout. GW Law’s extraordinary energy law faculty, led by Professor Emily Hammond, provides students with unparalleled expertise in this vital area of law. In 2013, GW Law also launched the Sustainable Energy Initiative to increase the research opportunities available to students and help them bridge the transition from law school to practice.
GW’s location at heart of the nation’s capital allows students to gain firsthand experience in and out of the classroom, to build an understanding of the connection between energy law and critical issues of public importance including national security, reliability, economic development, social equity, and environmental protection. GW Law students gain knowledge and skills through field placements with organizations such as, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and the American Wind Energy Association. Students also hold paid internships at some of the above, at other energy-focused non-governmental organizations, utilities and other for-profit energy companies and at law firms specializing in energy law.
Over 700 alumni of GW Law are engaged in energy law, including as general counsels or in executive business positions at major utility companies and non-governmental organizations, as partners and associates in law firms, as professors, and as regulators. In recent years, for example, at least six of our students elected to begin their careers at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where our graduates also hold senior leadership positions. This network has been tremendously helpful in giving our students that extra “hand-up” when they start their own careers.
GW Law has hosted major energy conferences in each of the last three years, and regularly hosts energy law events such as an Energy Law career panel.
The George Washington Journal of Energy and Environmental Law provides an opportunity for our students to enhance their legal research and writing skills, while having the opportunity to become a published legal author.
Energy law issues are truly of international scope. GW Law’s relationship with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and as a member of the North American Consortium on Legal Education (NACLE), allows students to study international issues in energy law at partner institutions. GW Law has also hosted the Groningen students on its campus. Our curriculum includes international energy and climate change courses, and our students often focus on international energy issues in their independent research papers. Further, through both our enrolled foreign students and international visitors, all our students have informal opportunities to better understand how energy and environmental law help shape the world of tomorrow.