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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Law of Climate Change Getting Interesting – Practice Area Gains Adherents

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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As the National Law Journal noted in March in A Climate Change in Classroom: Houston law school offers class on ‘climate change litigation’ – there was a course in climate change litigation taught this spring:

Houston Law Center is offering its course for the first time this semester. It is co-taught by Stephen Susman, a partner at Houston’s Susman Godfrey, and by Tracy Hester, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, also in Houston. Susman, generally a plaintiffs lawyer, covers the litigation side, while Hester focuses on regulation issues, Hester said.

According to recent news reports it seems to be on it’s way to becoming the hot new practice area. Susman, who co-taught the course, sees big rewards for lawyers willing to pioneer the territory, “I can’t say for sure it’s going to be as big as the tobacco settlements, but then again it may even be bigger.”

Not everyone agrees, of course. The comments of the WSJ Law Blog: Climate-Related Legal Work Heats Up are worth wading through, just don’t breathe too deeply.

Judging from the swelling ranks of departments it’s a trend a lot of big firms judge worth following, or at least too risky to be left out of. The Dallas Morning News reports that Thompson & Knight and Vinson & Elkins have both started climate-change practices. According to the paper Susman may have already found a client to test out the idea.

Now he’s among several lawyers talking with a group of Inuits in northern Canada who have seen an entire island sink under rising seas from global warming. The tribe is weighing its options, including suing carbon-emitting corporations such as power companies for heating the planet, he said.

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