Curriculum

Class Work

One-year course of study requiring 26 credit hours, including a final paper or field-work project. A list of existing qualifying courses and potential additional courses is listed here. Students will have the added benefit of seeking approval to include up to 6 credits in their course of study from relevant WVU graduate-level programs, such as course offerings in business, ecology, engineering, public policy, economics, and natural resources.

Energy Law Survey

This introductory energy law course provides an overview of the law and regulatory policies that govern and affect the energy industry. The course includes a review of the various traditional and renewable energy sources, mineral rights, economic regulation of the energy industry, and climate change and environmental concerns.

Environmental Protection Law

This survey course introduces students to energy, environment, and sustainability law and policy issues. Students will examine the development of environmental law from its common law tort roots through the birth of the “environmental movement” and the enactment of federal environmental regulatory laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act. The overarching goals of the course are to expose students to “real world” environmental issues they may face in practice and the principles, doctrine, and process lawyers use while representing clients in environmental and natural resource matters.

Administrative Law

A basic understanding of administrative law is nearly essential for all attorneys. This is especially true for those practicing in the areas of energy, environmental, and sustainable development law. This course covers the creation and operation of administrative agencies, common procedural practices and requirements of administrative procedure acts, judicial control of administrative agencies, and constitutional issues related to the area.

LL.M. Seminar

The Program will require a 3-credit LL.M. Seminar that covers a wide range of energy and sustainable development law and policy and explores diverse advanced topics and perspectives. The seminar will feature guest speakers who will present their scholarship and other works. Guests will include, for example, WVU Law faculty, local and national scholars and practitioners, government officials, regulators, and other leaders in the fields. Students will be required to engage in rigorous preparation for each seminar discussion and will be expected to develop a writing project that will be presented at the end of the course.

Specializations

Given the nature of the degree, students will earn their LL.M. in Energy and Sustainable Development without further formal specialization. Beyond the course requirements, however, students will have the flexibility in elective courses to focus their studies more specifically on courses in energy law, land use planning, and environmental law, among other options.

Research Paper or Field-Work Project

We expect each LL.M. graduate to bring their in-depth knowledge in the areas of energy and sustainable development into the world in a tangible way. The 4-credit Research Paper or Field-Work Project requirement lays the groundwork for that expectation. For those students looking to focus on influencing energy and sustainability policy, the option to write a research paper on a significant issue in law and energy or sustainability policy would form the basis for further work in the field. The paper can be related to an existing course (e.g., a 3-credit course with an additional credit granted for additional required research) or a student-specific study/thesis option with the approval of the Program Director.

Those students intending to enter private practice or work in industry may prefer to experience real world problems with real world clients. Whether through existing experiential learning opportunities available through WVU Law or through specific projects developed through student interest or via the College’s significant industry contacts, a student will be able to see energy and sustainability law in actual practice. Each project will require approval of the Program Director before it is started and upon completion.

Portfolio of Work

All LL.M. students will be required to develop a portfolio of work, consisting of at least four written pieces that are representative of the student’s experiences in the course of the Program. These pieces could include, but are not limited to, scholarly papers, industry white papers, significant legal motions, briefs or memoranda, substantial transactions documents, policy analyses, or draft legislation or regulations.

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