Vol. 42 No. 5
By Nicole Israel
The University of Oregon School of Law was awarded the Law Student Division’s Public Interest Award at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco for its Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC).
“We hope law students will be able to both learn about, and contribute to various projects trying to solve today’s environmental issues,” said co-director, Gordon Levitt.
“For others, particularly undergraduates, we hope their interest will be piqued not just in the legal side of issues, but in all sides of the struggle—whether sustainable food initiatives, environmental justice issues, or just good ol’ whale saving.”
About 30 years ago, a group of 15 speakers gathered on the Oregon campus with a handful of attendees. Now, the number of attendees has grown to over 3,000.
“PIELC stands out because it is one of the oldest and largest environmental law conferences in the world and is entirely run by students. This historical pedigree has been supported by the incredible people that pour themselves into PIELC, year after year,” Levitt said.
PIELC is entirely student-planned by a team of five conference co-directors (typically 2Ls), two first-year representatives, a treasurer and webmaster, and about 30 other law students organized into 12 different work groups. In 2013, PIELC hosted dozens of public interest organizations tabling for support, more than 120 panels and workshops, and a dozen keynote addresses. Each year, there is also an Indigenous Peoples’ Reception, a student reception, a guided hike and interpretive tour, morning yoga, and the PIELC Celebration featuring live music and local food and beverages. n