Find the Intersection of Opportunity and Interest

Meet Ian Kearney

Q: When did you decide to pursue a law degree?

A: Sometime between the middle and end of my undergraduate degree.  


Q: Why did you choose USD School of Law?

A: Metropolitan, market, prestige, sun, family, beer, and burritos.

Q: When did you decide to focus on energy and environmental law?

A: Environmental law was the primary driver behind my interest in law school, which stemmed from my undergraduate degree. My energy law interest developed at USD. I was excited about the many energy law opportunities the school offered and was immediately hooked when I began to learn the field.

Q: What have you done to gain practical experience in energy and environmental law?

A: My first experience was interning for EPIC the summer after my 1L (when I came back from the Paris-USD study abroad summer session). I continued that internship through the fall, while also taking the energy law class.

During the spring semester of my 2L year I participated in the energy clinic.

I followed this with a summer internship at the California Public Utilities Commission for the Administrative Law Judge Division. This was an awesome summer opportunity that any student at USD who has taken advantage of multiple energy law opportunities should compete for (they interview at UCLA Public Interest Day, but apply first).

Now as a 3L, I am writing for JCEL and am an Articles Editor. Additionally, I have returned for another semester with the clinic, this time working on a different topic although still for the California Energy Commission.

Q: What advice would you give to a prospective student interested in energy and environmental law? What things might you have done differently?

A: Get involved early because there is so much to learn! I think someone truly interested should get out ahead and take the energy law class in fall so they can have to opportunity to do the clinic their 2L spring. The environmental law class may be offered either of these semesters, and you can definitely take on these three commitments your second year while taking Bar courses and doing other extracurricular (i.e. journal, etc.). If you really want an energy or environmental summer position your rising 3L summer, you should have some more particularized legal knowledge in these fields, beyond a general interest in the topic. When I summered at the CPUC, my comfort with energy and utility issues allowed me to excel in my work, really have worthwhile discussions with the ALJs (judges), and generally be comfortable with the subject matter discussed.

Q: What activities do you participate in at USD School of Law?

A: A few of the societies (environmental, land use), especially golf law society (we have a yearly tournament!). Softball intramurals is a must. Believe me, get a team together, even if those Thursday nights are your only day off. You will appreciate retaining your sanity.

Q: What is the best thing that has happened to you here at law school?

A: Probably getting involved in something I thought could be interesting, energy law, then discovering a passion for it. Now I can add this field of law to my career pursuit that is distinct from the environmental issues I care about. Getting a good job is not easy, especially if you are trying to stay within a particular field of interest, so it is good to get your hands on other sincere interests to broaden the field of legal opportunities that would excite you. Energy law is especially challenging and requires quite a bit of background information to feel comfortable navigating this legal landscape. However, this barrier to entry makes you even more valuable once you begin to learn about energy law.

Ian Kearney

Legal interests: Energy law and policy, water resource management and water rights, urban and sustainable planning, land use law, environmental law, utility law, and municipal law  

Bachelor's Degree:  Earth Systems Science, B.S., at the University of California, Irvine.

Hometown: Fresno, CA

Dream job: CPUC Administrative Law Judge; City Attorney or County Counsel; energy or environmental advisor for an elected official