By Carla Reiter
When a rowing team for breast cancer survivors had concerns about pollution along a stretch of the Chicago River where they train, they turned to students at the University of Chicago Law School.
The students are part of the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic, a four-year-old program that puts second- and third-year law students to work on some of the most pressing environmental problems in the Great Lakes region and beyond. Their clients include local grassroots groups and some of the nation’s largest environmental organizations. Abrams clinic cases end up in front of judges, regulatory boards and commissions.
On a recent morning, a group of students sat around tables in an office suite preparing documents to submit to the Illinois Pollution Control Board on behalf of Recovery on Water, or ROW, a group of 85 breast cancer patients and survivors who row as therapy on the south fork of the south branch of the Chicago River, known as Bubbly Creek.
“The students get not just the theory of environmental law, but an experience of what it is like to actually be a practicing environmental lawyer,” said Mark Templeton, founding director of the clinic and associate clinical professor of law. “They learn some of the practical skills that wouldn’t be covered in the environmental law survey class. Regardless of what kind of practice they go into afterwards, they will be much more effective advocates for these kinds of issues because they’ve had these experiences.”
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