Dean Huffman's Entrepreneurial Spirit and Wise Investments: An International Environmental Law Perspective

By Thorson, Erica J. | Environmental Law, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

Dean Huffman's Entrepreneurial Spirit and Wise Investments: An International Environmental Law Perspective


Thorson, Erica J., Environmental Law


The departure of Jim Huffman from the helm of Lewis & Clark Law School surely evokes many fond memories of his tenure as dean and accolades for the many ways he pushed Lewis & Clark to the forefront of legal education, especially environmental legal education. However, many of those paying tribute to Dean Huffman would likely overlook his visionary role in supporting international environmental legal education. Dean Huffman had foresight when it came to cementing international environmental law as a mainstay of Lewis & Clark's curriculum, specifically within our clinical programs. The International Environmental Law Project (IELP), Lewis & Clark's international environmental law clinic, is unique in legal education. (1) In fact, for students interested in practicing international environmental law and for practitioners and advocates in the field, the clinic is a treasure. Dean Huffman supported the development of the clinic, and he generously supported student participation in international environmental opportunities throughout the world.

Professor Dan Rohlf had been teaching International Environmental Law at Lewis & Clark as an occasional class for a number of years before the arrival of Chris Wold on campus. Chris, however, brought the practice of international environmental law to the curriculum. Professors Craig Johnston and Dan Rohlf, along with Chris, ran an environmental practicum that included the practice of international environmental law. Chris taught at Lewis & Clark as an adjunct for these years, fundraising a salary to practice international environmental law, and eventually his practice garnered him an alluring job offer in Eugene. Dean Huffman had the foresight to ask Chris, "what do you need to stay?"

Although in hindsight Chris might have asked for more to stay than he did, he stayed and eventually IELP was born--the first, and to this day, the only, international environmental legal clinic. Dean Huffman's entrepreneurial management style as well as his visionary understanding that international law was an emerging field account significantly for IELP. Freed from fundraising his salary, Chris dedicated more time to building the new clinic in addition to teaching International Environmental Law as a regular part of the environmental core curriculum, along with other international environmental law-related classes. In so doing, the environmental law program and Dean Huffman supported international environmental law well before widespread student demand existed.

The student demand soon followed, but Dean Huffman did not just sit back and watch IELP flourish. Instead, he actively supported student participation. In fact, I currently work my dream job as a clinical professor and staff attorney for IELP, and I attribute being here in large part to Dean Huffman's support. Much of the work IELP undertakes obviously occurs in an international context, including meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). Students spend months working on projects that are carried out in their final stages in places like Bangkok, Thailand and Santiago, Chile at COPs of CITES. …

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