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Joel Minor

Joel Minor

MS-JD, Class of 2014

Undergrad Degree
B.A. Environmental Policy, Colorado College

Course Track
Climate and Atmosphere

I decided to go to law school to protect the health of communities that I cared about from the harmful health and environmental impacts of oil and gas development. And I chose Stanford in part because applying to the E-IPER program was so much simpler than equivalent programs in other schools.  You don't have to take any extra tests like the GRE, and you can still graduate with a J.D. and an M.S. in just three years.  But during my 1L year, my dream of being an environmental lawyer seemed far away.  Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law are just so different from the environmental issues that brought me to law school.  I often wondered if I had made the right choice in coming to law school at all.

Starting to take E-IPER courses during my 2L year answered that question for me.  Getting to have a second community at Stanford of people focused on solving the same climate and energy problems as I was gave me a newfound sense of focus and clarity about my career path.  I met professors who were genuinely curious about my views--how does the Clean Air Act influence engineering choices about pollution controls on power plants?  I met students who were willing to help me brush off my rusty math skills in exchange for hearing my ideas about law and policies (or for me doing the writing components of our group projects).  And I met E-IPER staff who encouraged me to get involved with the E-IPER and School of Earth Sciences communities through student committees and other groups. 

Suddenly, the broader world of Stanford had opened up to me. Today, as a Senior Associate Attorney at Earthjustice, I regularly draw upon my E-IPER training.  I did the Climate and Atmosphere course track, and took many courses on air pollution.  Now, I work on a variety of cases involving air and climate pollution from oil and gas development, oil refineries, and interstate highways.  I have drafted the technical and scientific parts of briefs, declarations, and public comments on several occasions.  I have presented testimony from expert atmospheric scientists in regulatory proceedings.  I drafted an amicus brief to the Colorado Supreme Court that more-or-less presented the research I did for my E-IPER capstone project about the health impacts of air pollution from oil and gas development.  And I not only explain scientific issues to courts, but also get to explain air pollution science to my colleagues.  There just aren't that many public interest environmental lawyers who have graduate-level training in scientific and engineering fields.