Recently, I received an email from an admitted student about one of the emphasis programs here at UI Law. As I was responding to her email, it occurred to me that this would be a good topic for this weeks ambassador blog!
So, what does it mean to emphasize in a particular area of study? While I really can only speak to my experience in the emphasis program I am pursuing, hopefully it gives you a general idea of what it would be like to emphasize in any of the other programs offered as well!
I am a 2L student emphasizing in Natural Resources and Environmental Law. I came to law school to learn and study "environmental law," but I had only a small idea of what that would entail. I had a lot of questions like, what would my classes be like? What extra requirements would I have? What type of law would I end up practicing and what internships could I get here in Idaho?
Let me start by saying, I have thoroughly enjoyed the NREL emphasis program. The professors are phenomenal. The NREL faculty have impressive and diverse backgrounds, and they draw upon their expertise to make class both interesting and understandable. Their ability to discuss the actual application of the theories and laws we study make the subject matters easier to grasp. Further, I like taking environmental classes with the same group of students who share my interest. They make forming study groups easy. Plus, it's nice to discuss things like summer plans or environmental issues in Idaho. And it's nice to study things that really interest me. Because I came to law school to learn to advocate for environmental issues, studying these issues helps drive my passion and gets me excited to practice. Finally, the externship program is amazing. Last summer, through the NREL externship program, I was able to extern for the Attorney General of Idaho in the Natural Resource Division. It was a unique and exciting experience, and one I may not have had the opportunity to participate in elsewhere.
So logistically, what's it like to have an emphasis? It's actually pretty easy. It hasn't been hard to balance my required classes with my emphasis courses. I will have no problem meeting the requirements for both. And, I get to choose the emphasis classes I take each semester which gives me a lot of flexibility. So far, I have taken, or am currently taking, Administrative Law, Water Law, Environmental Compliance for Businesses, Natural Resources Law, and Law, Science and the Environment. These classes have all covered different aspects of environmental law and have opened my eyes to different practice areas. The different classes have helped me find my own interests, and what I am not interested in pursuing. Further, every law student must write a paper in their second or third year, which is called the Upper Division Writing Requirement. As an emphasis student, I am able to meet this requirement while also meeting the writing requirement for the emphasis. And this way, I am able to write a paper on a particular subject matter that really interests me.
I hope that has given you an idea of what it's like to have an emphasis! I'm sure any of the ambassadors or any of the great faculty here would love to answer more questions, myself included!