Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Sturm College of Law environmental program ranks tops in the nation

The American Bar Association is honoring the University of Denver Sturm College of Law with the organization’s highest award for achievement in environmental law, emphasizing DU’s place among the nation’s top-ranked institutions in the field.

The association, with more than 400,000 members nationwide, is presenting its annual Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy to DU’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program on Aug. 12 in San Francisco.

Professor Federico Cheever, director of DU’s environmental law program, says the award comes as the world embarks on what may be the most important period of environmental study and protection since the 1970s. 

“It’s really an extraordinary era for environmental and natural resources law,” he says. “This is the age of climate change and a new generation of environmental problems.”

With its goal of educating students both in theory and real-world practice, Cheever says the Sturm College of Law strives to produce lawyers prepared to face issues ranging from endangered species to climate change to alternative energy.

He calls the award “a real recognition for the extraordinary range of activities and experiences that the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at the Sturm College of Law provides.”

“The program’s faculty produce exemplary scholarship while also providing excellent training to the next generation of environmental lawyers,” says Law Dean José Juárez.

Howard Kenison, a Denver environmental lawyer and a 1972 Sturm graduate, nominated the University for the award. He says chairing the Alumni Council keeps him up on the initiatives going on at Sturm and that it was just a matter of getting some attention focused on a university located far from the East and West Coasts where so many law schools are located.

“I think they recognized that it’s just a top-flight environmental program,” Kenison says.

Elissa Lichtenstein, director of the American Bar Association’s standing committee on environmental law, says the association gives its award for a body of consistent work, not for any one initiative or breakthrough.

“It really came down to the longevity of the program and the depth and breadth of its offerings,” Lichtenstein says. “There really has to be a history there.”

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