Clinical Program for Law Students

Clean Wisconsin offers law students from any law school the opportunity to learn first-hand about the practice of environmental law. Students participating in the clinical program learn valuable practice skills and apply their coursework in administrative law, legislation, environmental law, natural resources law, energy law, political science, and many other areas. Students work side by side with Clean Wisconsin’s in-house attorneys to analyze legislative proposals, participate in administrative proceedings, draft discovery, motions, testimony, and briefs, and participate in hearings. Clean Wisconsin aims to provide law students with “hands-on” experience that will prepare them for real world environmental law practice. Students may also have the opportunity to work with Clean Wisconsin’s expert legislative, policy, and science staff, who provide invaluable support to Clean Wisconsin’s legal team.

Some examples of internship work with Clean Wisconsin include:

Water Quantity and Quality Clean Wisconsin is focused on protecting the State’s most precious natural resource: its water. We’re working to improve the State’s management of water resources, both from a water quality and a water quantity perspective. Clean Wisconsin analyzes and responds to proposed legislation to ensure that Wisconsin’s waters are protected and not compromised by short-sighted laws. Clean Wisconsin also protects water by challenging permits issued by DNR that violate the law and endanger Wisconsin’s waters by failing to prevent harmful contamination of rivers, lakes, groundwater, and private wells, and by allowing enormous groundwater withdrawals that are causing rivers, lakes, and streams to recede and dry up.

Agriculture and the environment Bring your background in agricultural science, farming, sustainable food systems or food policy to effect change in Wisconsin’s largest industry. It is imperative that we develop innovative strategies to secure a sustainable future for agriculture that does not place our environmental at peril. For example, Clean Wisconsin is leading the charge in some of the State’s most innovative projects working to reduce phosphorus in agricultural runoff. Clean Wisconsin’s legal team weighs in on legislation and challenges permits to ensure that the agricultural industry meets its obligations to minimize harm to the environment.

Cleaning up the grid Developing safe, reliable, and clean energy infrastructure is a critical component to improving air and water quality and addressing climate change. Clean Wisconsin’s energy work covers local, state, and federal initiatives to improve energy efficiency, move our electricity generation away from coal and toward increased renewable energy production, and to set a strong policy to reduce electricity sector pollution. Interns work with our attorneys to represent Clean Wisconsin in utility rate cases and construction cases at the Public Service Commission, and permit appeals at the Division of Hearings and Appeals. Interns may also assist staff in advancing policy initiatives at the DNR and EPA.

Summer Internship Program

Our clinical program is open to students from any law school as a full-time volunteer summer internship. Law students work 40 hours per week during the summer, which provides the opportunity to explore a variety of environmental law topics and practice areas in depth. Clean Wisconsin attorneys and staff provide skills training and other educational seminars during the summer. Students also have the option to design and complete a research project over the course of their internship to pursue their specific interests in environmental law.

Most summer interns receive funding through public interest grants available from their law schools.

UW-Madison and Marquette students who are interested in applying for the summer internship should participate in the Public Interest Interview Program sponsored by those two schools. More information is available here. 

If you are interested in applying for the summer clinical program, please send a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample to Legal Director Katie Nekola. Applications are due:

  • Summer program: February 5

Fall and Spring Semester Externship Program

Our clinical program is also open to UW-Madison students as a semester-long for-credit externship. Semester externs may register for a 3- to 7-credit externship. Students earn one credit per 45 hours of work completed.

If you are interested in applying for the semester clinical program, please send a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, and writing sample to Legal Director Katie Nekola. Applications are due:

  • Fall externship: August 1
  • Spring externship: December 20