Environmental and Energy Law Certificate

The School of Law is currently in the process of transitioning its longstanding Environmental Law, Science & Policy Certificate Program into a new Energy & Environmental Law Area of Concentration:

Students who were admitted with the Class of 2016 or earlier classes can choose either to pursue the Certificate or the Area of Concentration. Whichever choice a student makes, the student must register for, and complete the requirements of, the chosen program in order to have completion of that program reflected on their transcripts.

Students who are admitted with the Class of 2017 or later classes may only enroll in the Area of Concentration.

For students admitted with the Class of 2016 or earlier classes, we have also included below a useful table comparing the requirements of the two programs to aid them in choosing between the programs. As indicated in the table, the Area of Concentration will require a minimum of 12 credits while the Certificate Program requires a minimum of 19 credits.

The law around the development, sale, use and preservation of natural resources is the practice framework for energy and environmental lawyers. Pitt Law offers a flexible concentration that allows students to pursue transactional, regulatory, litigation, or policy-based courses in the area of energy & environmental law. Students pursuing this concentration may explore the law of shale plays, utility law, international commercial transactions, pollution control laws, conservation statutes, renewable energy incentives, and climate law and policy.

Energy and environmental law is often practiced in or through interactions with administrative agencies and tribunals. The Concentration exposes students to administrative decisionmaking, statutory interpretation, rulemaking and adjudication, and judicial review of agency decisions.

Students may pursue this concentration by taking foundational courses in environmental or energy law, 5-6 credits of electives, and 4-6 skills-based credits. 

By completing these courses, it is expected that students enrolled in the concentration will learn and understand the substantive and procedural law in the area of environmental and energy law and will acquire the ability to apply subject-matter expertise in the area of environmental and energy law in experiential settings (e.g., clinics and externships or through classroom simulations) that will benefit them as they enter a career in the environmental or energy field or in another field in which knowledge of environmental or energy law is important.

Please note that this program may require that you complete an internship, externship, or other field work at a facility or facilities external to the University and that such facility or facilities may require a criminal background check, an Act 33/34 clearance (if applicable), and perhaps a drug screen to determine whether you are qualified to participate.

Please note that only students admitted with the Class of 2016 or earlier classes may pursue this Certificate. For students entering with the Class of 2017 or later classes, please consider enrolling in the Energy & Environmental Law Area of Concentration.

What characterizes the practice of environmental law?  Since the 1970s, federal and state legislatures and administrative agencies have worked to create a vast network of complicated legal mechanisms to protect and improve environmental quality.  In terms of subject matter coverage, environmental law encompasses numerous and diverse areas of concern: protection of air and water quality; clean-up of hazardous waste sites; and protection of biodiversity, to name only a few of the general areas, each of which is subdivided into numerous subspecialties. Regardless of the area of interest, an environmental lawyer must be a master of interdisciplinary research and argument, routinely moving between the worlds of law, science, and public policy.

Students enrolled in the certificate program will not only learn environmental law as it exists in statutes, regulations, and cases, but also will be involved in its practical application whether that takes the form of litigating and negotiating cases in courts or administrative tribunals, participating in federal and state rulemaking efforts, drafting agreements, or working in the numerous other contexts which constitute the practice of environmental law and policymaking.  Upon graduation, certificate students will be prepared to pursue a variety of career paths including private practice, work as a governmental attorney at the local, state or federal level, a staff position with a non-profit environmental advocacy group or research institution, or become part of a multidisciplinary environmental consulting firm.

Faculty Advisor

Professor of Practice

Visiting Associate Professor of Law

Adjunct Faculty

  • Prof. Kevin Abbott
    Reed Smith
  • Prof. Michael George
  • Prof. Penina Kessler Lieber
    Dinsmore & Shohl
  • Prof. Blaine A. Lucas
    Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C.
  • Prof. J. W. Montgomery, III
    Jones Day
  • Prof. David Overstreet
    Overstreet Law, LLC
  • Prof. Jon Perry
    Rosen, Louik & Perry, PC
  • Prof. Jennifer A. Smokelin
    Reed Smith

Advisory Committee Present Members:

  • Chester Babst, III (Babst Calland Clements & Zomnir, PC)
  • John E. Childe, Esq.
  • George Jugovic, Jr. (Dept. of Environmental Protection)
  • Jeffrey J. Lettrich (ALCOA)
  • Emily Lewis (Babst Calland Clements & Zomnir, PC)
  • Jennifer Smokelin (Reed Smith)
  • David Wagner (Reed Smith)
  • Howard J. Wein (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney)
  • Mary Anne Wesdock (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board)
  • Maxine Woelfling (Morgan Lewis & Bockius)
  • Tishie Woodwell (U.S. Steel Corporation)

Past Members (including, but not limited to):

Cynthia D. Driscoll (Jones Day); Paul King, QEP (Duquesne University); Robin Reed Lunn (Mayer Brown); Louis A. Naugle (Reed Smith, LLP); Elissa Ann Parker (Environmental Law Institute); Anthony P. Picadio (Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton); Michelle I. Ritter (PPG Industries, Inc.)

Thanks to the members of the Advisory Committee for providing guidance in administering the Environmental Law, Science and Policy Certificate Program and aiding in fundraising efforts.

If you would like to support the Environmental Law, Science and Policy Certificate Program, please visit: Support Pitt Law.

Concentration Requirements

Certificate Requirements

Foundational Courses 
(1 course required)

Required courses 
(8 or 9 credits)

Environmental Law & Practice (4 cr.) or Environmental Law (3 cr.)

Energy Law & Regulation (3 cr.)

Environmental Law & Practice (4 cr.)
or Environmental Law (3 cr.)

Administrative Law (3 cr.)

Environmental Policy & Politics (2 cr.)

Elective Courses
(5-6 credits required)

(4-6 credits)

Administrative Law (3 cr.)

Oil & Gas Law (2 cr.)

The Law of Shale Gas Regulation (1 cr.)

Environmental Policy & Politics (2 cr.)

Environmental Justice Law Seminar (3 cr.)

Climate Change and the Law (2 cr.)

Land Use (3 cr.)

Scientific Evidence (2 cr.)

Expert Witness (2 cr.)

Toxic Torts (2 cr.)

Environmental Litigation (2 cr.)

Mining Law, History & Practice (2 cr.)

Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law (1 cr.)

Water & Shale Gas Development (1 cr.)

Energy & Environment (3 cr.)

International Energy Transactions (3 cr.)

Climate Change & The Law (2 cr.)

Environmental Litigation (2 cr.)

Environmental Justice Law Seminar (3 cr.)

Insurance Law (3 cr.)

Land Use Planning (2 cr.)

Legislation (3 cr.)

Bankruptcy (3 cr.)

Nonprofit Tax Exempt Organizations (2 cr.)

Toxic Torts (2 cr.)

Oil and Gas Law (3 cr.)

Semester in D.C. (13 cr.)

Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law (1 cr.)

National Environmental Moot Court Competition (1 cr.)

Non-law courses approved by the Director on a case-by-case basis

Skills Component
(4-6 credits required)

Writing Requirement
(2 credits)

Environmental Law Clinic (6 cr.)

Environmental Moot Court Competition (1 cr.)

Energy Law Moot Court Competition (1 cr.)

Environmental Litigation (2 cr.)

Externship in the area of Environmental Law or Energy Law (4 cr.)

Semester in D.C. Program Externship (8-10 cr.)

Students must fulfill the School’s Upper Level Writing Requirement by writing on an environmental law topic.

Environmental Justice Law Seminar (3 cr.)


Environmental Practice
(4-8 credits)


Environmental Law Clinic (6 cr.)

Externship in the area of Environmental Law (4 cr.)

Semester in D.C. Program (13 cr.)