If you don’t know, Coastkeeper’s legal clinic is a win-win-win-win.
- The students get to learn.
- We get to stretch our programmatic resources.
- The legal profession gets trained attorneys at graduation.
- We grow the capacity of the legal industry and the ethos for conservation issues.
At least, that’s how it was put by Professor Michael Robinson-Dorn from University of California, Irvine Law School.
If you don’t know, he was the founding director of the award-winning environmental law clinic at the University of Washington before he joined the program just north of us.
He was also our special guest tonight at our Signs of the Tide special reception at which we showed off the work of our five student attorneys that end their journey with us this week.
Michael said that the power of student attorney programs like ours is that we give students the responsibility to provide advice and take action to protect fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters—all with close supervision of Waterkeeper Jill Witkowski.
Some of the best clinics, he also said, go beyond litigation. “We should be training problem solvers,” he said.
We like that theory.
Immediately following his short presentation, we heard one-minute recaps from our five rockstar student attorneys who spent their summer working on behalf of our waters—for free. From collaborating on MPA enforcement programs, to working on the stormwater permit to narrowing down the border pollution issues to small areas of focus on which we can make an impact—our student attorneys solved problems across the county.
When you think about the time they gave—forty hours a week for the summer—we effectively grew a one-person clinic to the power of six. According to Executive Director Megan Baehrens, at a very reasonable $50/hour, that is around $10,000 value of legal expertise and action. EVERY WEEK.
In my world, that makes a win, win, win, win, win. In addition to points one through four above, an investment in San Diego Coastkeeper’s student attorney program is a wise investment in clean water for your community that has a major return on investment.
Like Michael said, “If you care about conservation and clean water, you want groups like Coastkeeper.”