Apr 14, 2023
A Career In The Field Of Environmental Law
In today's world, environmental concerns have become more pressing than ever before. Climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss are some of the significant challenges that the planet is facing. To address these challenges, the need for specialized legal intervention has become increasingly crucial. This is where environmental law comes into the picture. Environmental law is a field of law that deals with environmental issues and concerns, ranging from air and water pollution to waste management and climate change. In this article, we will discuss how to specialize in environmental law, the scope and avenues of this field, and the need for environmental lawyers today. We will also break the myth that environmental lawyers cannot make money out of their careers and provide insights into the career journey of environmental specialists.
What is Environmental Law?
Environmental law in India is a body of laws, policies, and regulations that aim to protect and conserve the country's environment and natural resources. India has a rich and diverse natural heritage, and its environmental challenges are unique and varied. Environmental laws in India have evolved over the years and have been strengthened by landmark judgments of the Supreme Court.
The Constitution of India has provisions for environmental protection under Article 48A and Article 51A(g). Article 48A states that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. Article 51A(g) makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife. India has enacted several environmental laws, such as the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. These laws are enforced by various regulatory bodies such as the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), and the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
According to a report by the CPCB, the quality of air and water in India has deteriorated significantly in recent years. The report states that 55% of India's rivers are polluted and 70% of its water supply is contaminated. Additionally, a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 14 of the world's 15 most polluted cities are in India. Environmental law plays a crucial role in protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development, and it is essential to address the environmental challenges faced by the country today.
Scope and Avenue of Environmental Law in India
The scope of environmental law in India is vast and covers various aspects of environmental protection and conservation. Environmental law regulates the human impact on the environment, which includes pollution control, conservation of biodiversity and natural resources, and sustainable development. The scope of environmental law includes various sectors such as energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and construction. Environmental law in India provides a legal framework for the management and protection of the environment. It covers issues such as air and water pollution, hazardous waste management, climate change, biodiversity, and forest conservation. The legal framework for environmental protection in India includes various laws and regulations at the central and state levels.
The avenues for environmental law in India are diverse and offer a range of career opportunities for law students and professionals. One can work in law firms specializing in environmental law, in-house legal departments of companies, environmental organizations, and government agencies. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a specialized court that deals with environmental disputes and offers an avenue for practising environmental law.
Environmental law practice requires specialized knowledge and skills, including knowledge of environmental science and policy-making. Lawyers working in this field must be well-versed in the various environmental laws and regulations and can work with scientific data and expert witnesses. The scope and avenues of environmental law in India are extensive and offer opportunities for legal professionals to work toward environmental protection and conservation. The legal framework for environmental protection in India is robust, and there is a growing need for specialized environmental lawyers to address the environmental challenges faced by the country.
While environmental law may not be the most lucrative field of law, it still offers a range of career opportunities with decent earning potential. Environmental lawyers can work in various sectors such as law firms, corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Many law firms have environmental law departments that specialize in environmental compliance, litigation, and consulting. These firms often represent corporations and government agencies in environmental disputes and transactions, and their clients are willing to pay for their legal services.
Environmental lawyers can also work in-house for corporations, advising them on environmental compliance and sustainability practices. This type of work offers a steady salary and benefits, and some corporations offer significant financial incentives for environmental performance. Non-profit organizations and government agencies also offer employment opportunities for environmental lawyers. These organizations work toward environmental protection and conservation, and their legal departments play a crucial role in their advocacy and litigation efforts.
The earning potential for environmental lawyers may not be as high as some other fields of law such as corporate law or intellectual property law, but it is still a rewarding career option. The salary of an environmental lawyer may vary depending on their experience, location, and employer. According to a survey by PayScale, the average salary of an environmental lawyer is around $61,605/ year internationally.
Environmental lawyers can make money out of their careers, and it is a viable career option for those interested in environmental protection and conservation. While it may not be the most lucrative field of law, it offers a range of career opportunities with decent earning potential.
Salary of Environment Lawyers in India
The salary of environmental lawyers in India varies depending on various factors such as the level of experience, the type of employer, and the location of the job. Generally, environmental lawyers working with large law firms in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore tend to earn higher salaries compared to those working with smaller firms or NGOs. According to payscale.com, the average salary of an environmental lawyer in India is INR 589,581/year. However, this figure can be higher for experienced lawyers and those working with top law firms. As with any profession, the salary of an environmental lawyer in India will depend on their expertise, experience, and ability to market themselves effectively. It's important to note that many environmental lawyers in India also choose to work with NGOs or public interest organizations, where the salaries may be lower compared to private firms, but the work is highly fulfilling and rewarding.
How should a law student begin their career in environmental law?
For law students interested in pursuing a career in environmental law, there are several avenues they can consider. Some of the ways to begin a career in environmental law are as follows:
Internships: Law students can gain valuable experience by interning with law firms, NGOs, government agencies, or environmental organizations. This will provide them with exposure to the practical aspects of environmental law and help them build a network of contacts in the field.
Work with NGOs: Working with NGOs can offer law students an opportunity to work toward environmental protection and conservation. NGOs often have legal departments that deal with environmental issues, and law students can work with them to gain experience.
Work with Law firms: Many law firms have environmental law departments that deal with environmental compliance, litigation, and consulting. Law students can apply for internships or entry-level positions with these firms to gain exposure to the field.
Some of the law firms in India that have environmental law departments are J. Sagar Associates, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, Trilegal, and Khaitan & Co. These firms have represented clients in various environmental disputes and transactions and offer career opportunities for environmental lawyers.
Work with Companies: Companies often have in-house legal departments that deal with environmental compliance and sustainability practices. Law students can apply for internships or entry-level positions with these companies to gain exposure to the field.
Working with Environmental specialists: Environmental specialists are professionals who specialize in environmental issues and hold legal backgrounds. They play a crucial role in advising governments, NGOs, and corporations on environmental matters. Some of the prominent environmental specialists with legal backgrounds include Sunita Narain, M.C. Mehta, and Ritwick Dutta. They have made significant contributions to the field of environmental law and policy. Environmental specialists having legal backgrounds often work in interdisciplinary roles that require expertise in both environmental science and law. These specialists can work in various sectors such as consulting, policy-making, and research. For instance, some environmental specialists work as environmental consultants for companies or as policy analysts for government agencies. Others may work as researchers or professors in universities or research institutions.
How to specialise in Environmental Law?
To specialize in Environmental Law, a law graduate should consider the following steps:
Pursue relevant coursework: Law graduates can pursue coursework that focuses on environmental law, policy, and regulation. Relevant coursework can provide a foundational understanding of the legal and policy frameworks that govern environmental protection and conservation.
Gain practical experience: Law graduates can gain practical experience by participating in moot court competitions, research projects, or internships with environmental organizations, law firms, government agencies, or NGOs. This can provide them with exposure to the practical aspects of environmental law and help them build a network of contacts in the field.
Obtain relevant certifications: Environmental law certifications can enhance a law graduate's credentials and demonstrate their commitment to environmental law. Some of the certifications that a law graduate can pursue are the Certified Environmental Law Professional (CELP) certification, the Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) certification, and the LEED Green Associate certification.
Attend relevant conferences and workshops: Attending conferences and workshops can provide law graduates with an opportunity to network with professionals in the field, stay updated on the latest developments in environmental law and policy, and gain practical knowledge and skills.
Pursue advanced degrees: Law graduates can consider pursuing advanced degrees in environmental law, policy, or science. An advanced degree can provide a deeper understanding of environmental law and policy, enhance career prospects, and qualify them for higher-level positions.
International Scope of Environmental Law
Environmental law has a significant international scope as environmental problems transcend national boundaries, and the actions of one nation can affect the environment of other nations. International environmental law is a body of law that governs the conduct of nations and international organizations with respect to the environment. Several international agreements and treaties address environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, and marine pollution. Examples of such treaties include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
International environmental law also includes the principles of customary international law, such as the precautionary principle, the polluter pays principle, and the principle of sustainable development. These principles guide nations and international organizations on how to protect the environment and use natural resources sustainably. International environmental law also involves collaboration and cooperation between nations and international organizations. The development of international environmental law involves negotiations and consultations among countries, civil society, and international organizations to develop and implement effective solutions to global environmental problems.
Need for environmental lawyers today
The need for environmental lawyers today is more critical than ever before. Environmental issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss are threatening the health and well-being of people and the planet. Environmental lawyers play a crucial role in protecting the environment and ensuring that laws and regulations are enforced to prevent further harm.
Environmental lawyers work with various stakeholders such as government agencies, corporations, NGOs, and communities to develop and implement policies and practices that promote sustainable development and protect the environment. They provide legal advice and representation to individuals and organizations that are affected by environmental issues, and they work to hold polluters accountable for their actions. In addition to their legal expertise, environmental lawyers also play a critical role in educating the public and raising awareness about environmental issues. They help people understand the legal implications of environmental problems and advocate for policies and practices that protect the environment.
In conclusion, environmental law is an essential field of law that deals with environmental issues and concerns. It offers a wide range of job opportunities and high-paying salaries. Law students interested in specializing in environmental law can gain practical experience by working with NGOs, law firms, and companies. They can also attend relevant courses, internships, and certifications. The need for environmental lawyers is more pressing today than ever before, and they play a crucial role in preserving the environment and promoting sustainable development.
CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD, ANNUAL REPORT 2020-21, https://cpcb.nic.in/openpdffile.php?id=UmVwb3J0RmlsZXMvMTQwM18xNjU1MzU0NzkxX21lZGlhcGhvdG8xNjQ3MS5wZGY=
 Average Environmental Law Salary, payscale, https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Environmental_Law/Salary