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Environmental Law in the Age of Climate Change

In the latest McGeorge webinar, Assistant Dean of Graduate, Online, and International Programs Clemence Kucera welcomed guest speaker Rich Deitchman to discuss environmental law in the age of climate change. 

Rich is an adjunct professor of law at McGeorge School of Law where he teaches Water Resources Law for the MSL program. He is also Regional Counsel for the Pacific Region at The Conservation Fund.

Environmental Law & Climate Change

Paths to a Career in Water and Environmental Law

Rich’s path to a meaningful career in water law may serve as inspiration for prospective MSL students. He completed a graduate degree in hydrology, the science of the study of water, where he gained a real appreciation for how an interdisciplinary background can be useful in dealing with environmental issues. He stresses, however, that an MSL degree such as this one from McGeorge could easily have landed him in the same spot.

Interested in how science impacts policy, he then chose to further his education by attending law school along with various internships for career preparation. He then spent over a decade in private practice at a water and environmental law firm, but constant litigation wasn’t for him. A better fit was the nonprofit organization The Conservation Fund, which aims to solve water, environmental, and climate change issues from a non-litigation perspective. He’s had the opportunity to work in various states across the west, with particular emphasis on California.

Accounting for Change

These are important issues. “I think we need more people out there with really strong interdisciplinary backgrounds who can integrate science and policy in our laws and how we move forward,” Rich states. It’s an encouraging reminder for those who do not want to commit to a potentially all-consuming JD degree. 

You may not know that our nation’s water laws go back to the 1800s – and most haven’t changed. Due to climate change, we are seeing significantly more of both flood and drought years. Our water laws often neglect to account for that change, and in some cases have been built on outdated principles. 

One of the things that the McGeorge faculty teaches in the MSL Water Resources class is key California water law concepts. Even just a decade or two ago, Rich saw the field as steeped more in history than current necessity. But the reality is that we need to work quickly to address current and future problems. 

Complications and Current Issues

What are the complications from climate change with respect to water law?

  • Though most water laws are state law, federal law connections create complications
  • Climatologic differences exist between states
  • Current legislation in some cases needs an update

 What can we do about these issues?

  • Integrate a interdisciplinary approach
  • Acknowledge and address the impact of climate change on federalism tensions
  • Utilize more adaptive water water management

Understanding Leads to Problem-Solving

An MSL from McGeorge School of Law seamlessly equipped you with the knowledge base, skills, and credentials needed to enter and impact the field of water and environmental law. We’re bringing together folks who have a policy background, understand the legal system, and bring their own unique talents to find real-world solutions. “You need to understand how the system works in order to fix it.” For example, one of the projects Rich guides students through is an investigation into your own water supplier. 

This multifunctional but focused legal degree is for non-lawyers who still want to influence and advocate for improved legislation in fields such as water and environmental law. Better yet, McGeorge’s program is curated for your ease and convenience – it’s fully online, with an asynchronous and interactive course structure, and plenty of support for students of all walks of life. Courses include hot-button topics and essential foundations alike, from Lobbying and Politics to Analytical Skills. For more information on the curriculum, click here.

Make a real difference for future generations. Apply for McGeorge’s Online MSL in Water and Environmental Law now.

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