Learn About the Coastal Policy Clinic

by Bridget Claycomb, Class of 2016

William and Mary has a variety of legal clinics available to law students who have completed the first year required courses. Most clinics are worth 3 credits/semester and give students an opportunity to gain practical skills. Most legal clinics have a public service/public interest component as they help people and organizations who otherwise might not be able to afford legal representation.

If you are interested in environmental law then William and Mary’s Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC) might be the opportunity for you. Admissions talked with Erica Penn (3L) and Jason Kane (2L) about their experience with the clinic so far this semester. Both students knew from a young age that they wanted to attend law school. William and Mary’s supportive community attracted Penn to Williamsburg, while Kane felt W&M’s location and prestige would open up networking and career opportunities. They participate on the Environmental Law and Policy Review and have an interest in environmental law. Kane is the Co-President of the Environmental Law Society.

Kane points out that “Law school courses require students to think a lot about theory,” but the clinics allow for a practical experience. “The clinic allows students to develop their research, writing and advocacy skills,” said Penn. Kane agrees, adding, “Professor Jones treats the clinic like a firm. We push each other and work together. If one project has a field trip, we all go. If someone has a question about their project, we discuss it.”

Shana Jones, Director, Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic

Shana Jones, Director, Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic

Penn and Kane both sing the praises of Professor Shana Jones, who teaches the clinic. “We meet twice a week for class and get a crash course on the different areas of our projects,” says Kane. “I work with a local non-profit investigating the impact that animal feed operations have on the Chesapeake Bay.” Penn also enjoys the opportunity to help solve real issues in Hampton Roads. “My main project this semester is to write a whitepaper that will provide the Secure Commonwealth Panel Sub-Panel on Recurrent Flooding with guidance as they tackle the effects of sea-level rise at the state level,” said Penn. “The clinic does require a significant time commitment, but the work is truly rewarding.”

“I would recommend VCPC to all current and future students that have an interest in environmental law and grassroots advocacy,” says Penn. “This clinic offers a unique law school experience because you get to be the expert as a student,” Kane says. “You will know the law surrounding your project better than anyone.”

Click here if you are interested in learning more about the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic and the other clinics offered at William and Mary.

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