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Environmental attorney jobs can include lawyers who work on the legal ethics of various issues related to the environment, including but not limited to issues related to clean water and air, maritime oil spills, and a variety of pollutants that negatively impact the environment.
In some cases, environmental attorney jobs pertain to the protection of the environment. For example, attorneys may work for environmental "watchdog" groups, such as the Environmental Protection Agency. In other cases, though, attorneys may work for clients who feel they have been wrongly accused of environmental misbehavior. This means that environmental attorneys work on both sides of the environmental coin.
What does it take to get environmental attorney jobs?
All lawyers must attend law school and graduate, plus pass the bar exam for their particular states. Most law schools offer at least one elective core set on environmental law, and some law schools offer coursework particularly geared toward environmental law as a specialty. In addition, the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law is a network of about 60 schools worldwide that specialize in teaching environmental law. Therefore, it's advised that you have at least some coursework, if not specialized degree, in environmental law.
In addition, you must have a particular passion for the environment to work as an environmental lawyer. Why? Because even though many states and the country itself have enacted statutes and allies that supposedly protect the environment, in many cases, and the enactment of those laws has remained a spotty at best. One of the most important areas in environmental law today is the issue of sustainable development. Sustainable development seeks to meet human needs at the same time protect the environment, and that resources necessary can be garnered without negatively impacting the environment.
This is important especially today because as we have seen, human behavior has very negatively impacted the environment and the planet itself. Unforeseen consequences such as global warming have come about as a result of our behavior. Now it's time to fix them, and to do that, we need new laws enacted as well as new technologies used. Combined, this will help make sure that the energy sources we use are sustainable and do not continually negatively impact the environment. In addition, we have to repair the damage was already done.
Even though fossil fuels loom large in the headlines as one of the major components of the negative impact humans have on the environment, this is just one aspect. Other toxicities and waste, too, have come about as a result of modern life and of carelessness about the environment. Unfortunately, far too many still do not take seriously the long-term consequences of this type of behavior, and therefore continue to abuse the environment in the interest of short-term profitability, cost cutting, or simple laziness. This is why it is so necessary to have those versed in environmental law step up to the challenge of protecting the environment utilizing those laws. One major concept brought about by environmental law was the "polluter pays" concept adopted locally by many regions. In this case, the polluter is required to pay for the damage done to the environment and to help restore it to its previous condition as much as it is possible.
Another major environmental law is the "fly tipping" law. This law states that no one can "tip waste" onto land or onto a site without previous permission to do so. This law was enacted not just because it's unsightly and unseemly to dump uncontrolled waste wherever we want to, but it's also necessary to properly contain and dispose of waste for health reasons.
International environmental law
International environmental law is concerned with protecting the environment globally. It began with the assertion that states should not allow territory to be used in such a way that other states' territory would be compromised. International environmental law is now comprised of a body of legally binding international agreements. They range from pollution protection for land, water and air through wildlife and biodiversity protection as well. And of course, this is going to become more of a concern as we continue our progress as a "global" nation, planet wide. With the globalization of industry, so goes the globalization of environmental concerns.
Other areas with environmental attorney jobs focus
Environmental lawyers don't just work with the environment and its protection. Environmental attorney jobs can also include helping people stay safe in work environments, too. For example, poisons and toxins such as asbestos can cause illness and cancers such as mesothelioma for those exposed to it. Therefore, environmental attorney jobs can also include making sure businesses, for example, comply with asbestos removal and in some cases may even represent clients wishing to sue for injury because of pollution, contamination, and so on.
What can an environmental attorney expect to make?
Environmental attorney jobs to pay relatively little as compared to some other legal professions; in some cases, they can make as little as $35,000 a year. That said, however, most environmental attorney jobs are not sought after because of the money. Rather, lawyers who want to get into this arena do so because of a strongly held belief in the need to protect the environment and its inhabitants.
Environmental attorney jobs can be very rewarding and exciting. Though not monetarily as rewarding as some other areas of the legal profession, most who step into environmental attorney jobs do so because of a compulsion to protect the environment and we who live in it, not just because of monetary compensation. In addition, this is a relatively fast-growing area of the legal profession, with the renewed focus on global warming and other environmental impacts that have come about recently. Because of this, it's a wise area to get into, especially on the East Coast.
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