Environmental Law Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enroll in the Environmental Law Program (ELP)? Do I need to file a separate application?

Do I have to know when I start law school that I want to pursue the Environmental Law Certificate?

What are the certificate requirements?

Do I have to get a law degree to get the Environmental Law Certificate?

As a part-time student, can I still get the Environmental Law Certificate?

Is the Environmental Law Certificate a separate degree from the Juris Doctor?

What if I do not consider myself an “environmentalist,” but am still interested in environmental law? Is this certificate right for me?

Can I work toward more than one certificate? For example, could I earn a Pacific Asian Legal Studies or Native Hawaiian Law Certificate in addition to the Environmental Law Certificate?

Will earning the certificate mean I can take only environmental law classes? Will I have the ability to take “bar classes”?

Can I take ELP courses and participate in ELP programs without being a certificate candidate?

What’s the difference between the Environmental Law Program and the Environmental Law Society?

Can the Environmental Law Certificate help me get a job?

What types of careers are available in the field?

Can I observe an ELP class?

How can I get more involved with ELP now?

I am a graduate student at UH Mānoa. May I take an ELP course?

My question is not on this list of FAQs, so how can I get more information?


Q: How do I enroll in the Environmental Law Program (ELP)? Do I need to file a separate application?

A: You do not need to file a separate application to be part of ELP. Once you have started law school, you can decide to participate in the wide array of opportunities offered to you by ELP at any time.

Q: Do I have to know when I start law school that I want to pursue the Environmental Law Certificate?

A: No. ELP regularly holds informational sessions and certificate planning meetings for all students interested in learning more about pursuing the certificate. Students use the Certificate checklist to plan their courses throughout law school. The first-year law school curriculum, however, is largely fixed so students do not start taking ELP courses until the second year. Most ELP students take Environmental Law in the Fall of their second year as a gateway course and Administrative Law in the Spring of their second year. By their third year, students must demonstrate that they will meet the Certificate requirements upon graduation.

Q: What are the certificate requirements?

A: A description of the certificate program and requirements is available in the “About ELP” section of this website. The Certificate requires two “core” courses (Environmental Law and Administrative Law), three advanced courses, two supplemental courses, academic excellence (3.0 GPA), and one intensive/extra-curricular course or paper option.

Q: Do I have to get a law degree to get the Environmental Law Certificate?

A: Yes. The certificate is an acknowledgement of specialization in environmental law studies, and therefore is only available to students working toward a law degree (J.D.). About ten students a year obtain the Environmental Law Certificate upon graduation. To date, over 130 students have obtained the certificate.

Q: As a part-time student, can I still get the Environmental Law Certificate?

A: Yes. Although the scheduling of courses can be challenging for students in the new part-time JD program, it is possible for a part-time JD student to earn the ELP certificate.

Q: Is the Environmental Law Certificate a separate degree from the Juris Doctor?

A: No. The certificate is a recognition of your specialization in a particular study of law and supplements your JD.

Q: What if I do not consider myself an “environmentalist,” but am still interested in environmental law? Is this certificate right for me?

A: ELP welcomes students from a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds, from corporate to public interest and everything in between. Our faculty, courses, and students reflect the broad range of educational and career interests in Hawai‘i’s land use, environmental, business, government, and indigenous communities.

Q: Can I work toward more than one certificate? For example, could I earn a Pacific Asian Legal Studies or Native Hawaiian Law Certificate in addition to the Environmental Law Certificate?

A: Yes. Each year a few students – through careful planning and consultation – work toward dual certificates. With careful scheduling, obtaining dual certificates is possible.

Q: Will earning the certificate mean I can take only environmental law classes? Will I have the ability to take “bar classes”?

A: The certificate requires a focused course of study based on a selection of courses and extra-curricular options. Students must meet the other law school course requirements as well. A typical certificate student still takes a number of upper-level Bar classes such as Evidence, Constitutional Law, Trusts and Estates, and Business Associations. How many and which Bar courses you take depends greatly on your own study habits and career goals.

Q: Can I take ELP courses and participate in ELP programs without being a certificate candidate?

A: Yes. ELP welcomes participation from, and provides opportunities to, all students interested in studying environmental law. Many law school students take one or two ELP courses without pursuing the Certificate.

Q: What’s the difference between the Environmental Law Program and the Environmental Law Society?

A: The Environmental Law Society is a student-run organization at the Law School, independent from the Environmental Law Program. ELS and ELP collaborate on a number of activities throughout the year. All law students are welcome to participate in both ELS and ELP events.

Q: Can the Environmental Law Certificate help me get a job?

A: The certificate distinguishes your achievement in law school and conveys to employers that you have focused your studies in a particular field of law. Moreover, ELP provides certificate candidates career counseling support and opportunities to network with employers throughout the school year and over the summer.

Q: What types of careers are available in the field?

A: Our graduates work in private law firms, federal, county, and state agencies, the federal and state courts, public interest law firms, businesses, and non-profit organizations. Many work in Hawai‘i, but several have pursued careers on the continent or abroad. For more information about the wide variety of career opportunities, refer to our ELP Careers Directory (on the ELP web site).

Q: Can I observe an ELP class?

A: Yes. First, select courses of interest by exploring the “About ELP” section of this website. Not all courses are available each semester, so you will need to cross-check your chosen courses of interest for availability with the Law School schedule. Click here for the class schedule.  Once you have identified a course or courses you would like to observe, send your request to elp@hawaii.edu. Please note that while most class observation requests are granted, we are not able to grant every request. When you visit an ELP course, you can also arrange for a student-hosted visit to general law school classes with the Admissions office.

Q: How can I get more involved with ELP now?

A: If you are a prospective student, you can join the ELP listserv and receive regular notices about events and program opportunities, such as the lunch-time speaker series. You can also email ELP directly and inquire about how to get involved. Send your request to join the listserv and/or other inquiries to elp@hawaii.edu.

Q: I am a graduate student at UH Mānoa. May I take an ELP course?

A: While the certificate is available only to law students, UH Mānoa graduate students in other programs are welcome to (and often do) enroll in ELP classes (usually the gateway Environmental Law course, offered every Fall).

Q: My question is not on this list of FAQs, so how can I get more information?

A: First, check the ELP web site (www.hawaii.edu/elp) and the Law School web site (www.law.hawaii.edu). If you still can not find an answer, please email your question to elp@hawaii.edu and someone from the program will get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank you for your interest in the Environmental Law Program!