By Leah Edmunds '06
In celebration of its 25th Anniversary, the Virginia Environmental Law Journal is hosting a conference covering a wide range of environmental topics. The conference will take place on Wednesday, March 29, through Friday, March 31, and will feature prominent practitioners of environmental law and related fields from around the country. The Law School and the greater University community are invited to attend.
The opening and closing panels will look at current and future trends in environmental law, and will include such speakers as Tom Sansonetti, a partner at Holland and Hart and the former chief of the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Nicholas A. Robinson, co-director of the Center for Environmental Legal Studies at Pace Law School.
The environmental law education focus in these panels will carry over into a breakfast discussion on Thursday, March 31 that will feature members of the U.Va. Law Environmental Program faculty, who will discuss the specifics of teaching environmental law at U.Va. and how the program can be augmented.
Other lectures and panels cover an impressively wide array of topics within the environmental arena. One panel of particular interest to those with New York City affiliations, for instance, discusses the value of community gardens and other open space in low-income and minority neighborhoods, another covers the 9/11 fund and its impact on the risk regulation debate, while a separate discussion panel will discuss the related risk assessment.
Along with small-scale or local environmental issues, regional concerns will also be treated in a talk by Rick Middleton, president of the Southern Environmental Law Center, on environmental advocacy in the South over the next 10 years. At the national level, Professors Jason Czarnezki and Robert Adler of University of Utah and Marquette University law schools will discuss the rebirth of common law in the environmental context and restoring democracy in tandem with the environment, respectively.
International environmental law gets a nod in the keynote address by Charles Di Leva, a prominent international attorney currently serving as Chief Counsel at the World Bank’s Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development and International Law Practice Group. Di Leva will speak on the global approach to international environmental issues, and a panel discussion will follow.
VELJ, as the sponsoring organization, will be celebrating its past and future with a breakfast workshop featuring its national advisory board members and a ceremony to mark the culmination of its pro bono drive featuring staff from prominent environmental NGOs. In addition to the conference, VELJ is sponsoring a cleanup of the law school neighborhood on March 27, as well as a joint pro bono drive with VELF that aims for a combined 250 hours of environment-related public service.
According to conference organizer and VELJ Business and Development Editor J.R. Lederer, “the conference proves to be a milestone event in the Journal’s long history, celebrating the role VELJ has played in developing the field of environmental law and continuing to explore how it can expand its frontier as well as connections to other disciplines.”