What to do with $10,000 Now?

Posted on August 22, 2017 by Bradley Marten

You probably see the same articles I do, entitled “What to Do with $10,000 Now.”  Everyone has an idea.  Put it in Tesla. Invest in euros. Dig a bomb shelter.

I have an idea. Give it to a law student.

You already know this, but it’s harder to be a law student than when we went to law school.  When I graduated in 1981, you pretty much got a job as long as you didn’t spill soup on your tie during the interview lunch. Even at that, it was OK to spill, as long as it wasn’t tomato soup. But law firm and government hiring is down, especially for environmental lawyers. 

The thing is, there are nevertheless a lot of law students passionate about environmental law. And there are a lot of very good environmental law programs at a lot of very good law schools. Most importantly, for those of us gently called “senior lawyers,” there are good reasons to think about one’s legacy, and that legacy is not in making more money.  It’s in helping young people in our law schools achieve their dreams.

There are lots of ways to invest in the young environmental lawyers who will lead our field in the future.  You can hire them; you can sponsor them; you can teach them; as many of our ACOEL Fellows already do. But we can and should do more, because we are in the best position to do so.  

For what it’s worth, here’s what we do at our law firm.  We hire law students and law graduates each year, even if we aren’t sure we have the work for them.  “Just in time” sourcing may work for making refrigerators, but it doesn’t work for lawyers.  We have to invest in them, and prove later that our investment was a smart one.  Second, we give a stipend each year to a law student interested in public practice so they can spend a summer at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC. There, they meet leading practitioners and scholars in the field and get to research and write about topical areas. Third, we bring leading practitioners and academics to our local law school, the University of Washington, where they meet with students and faculty, and sometimes give a pubic presentation at a downtown hotel.

Some of you already do these things. It’s not a competition, and we are happy to have others do more. But if you are looking to invest, some environmental law programs to consider spending $10,000 on include these:

http://www.nysba.org/

http://www.sierraclub.org/

https://law.ucla.edu/

If nothing there catches your eye, your alma mater or local law school is another place to consider. In addition, ACOEL will soon establish a 501(c)(3) organization, one purpose of which will be to support environmental education. Regardless of where you invest, at the end of the day, you may make more in the market but you’ll never feel as good as you will investing in others.



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