Energy Law and Policy Clinic

The Energy Policy Initiatives Center sponsors the Energy Law and Policy Clinic, a unique opportunity for USD Law students to work in partnership with a related state agency to conduct legal research and draft work product on a topical issue.

The Energy Law and Policy Clinic, which is offered every Spring semester for 3 credits, seeks to match a small group of students (3-8) that have taken Energy Law and Policy (or have relevant work experience) with a state agency to conduct legal research on a current issue. Students that have taken Climate Law or Administrative Law may also be matched depending on the research topic. Students lead weekly or bimonthly calls with agency staff and develop a legal memo or similar report that they present to the agency at the end of the semester. In addition to learning about a specific energy or climate related issue, students who take the Energy Law and Policy Clinic also learn a range of practical skills. At the end of the clinic, students travel to Sacramento or San Francisco to present their findings to a group of agency staff and/or commissioner(s).

Examples of recent Clinics are listed below:

  • 2017: Students worked with the California Energy Commission on issues related to the implementation of SB 350.
  • 2016: Students worked with the California Air Resources Board on a confidential project.
  • 2015: Students researched topics related to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan proposed rule. This work is for the California Energy Commission, in partnership with the California Air Resources Board and the California Public Utilities Commission.
  • 2014: Students conducted research related to cost effectiveness for the California Energy.
  • 2013: Students conducted research related to energy data for the California Energy Commission.
  • 2012: Students conducted research related to appliance standards for the California Energy Commission.
  • 2011: Students conducted research for the California Energy Commission relating to authority and permitting requirements for siting thermal power plants in California.
  • 2010: USD Law student worked in partnership with the California Public Utilities Commission's (CPUC) Legal Division to determine whether existing statutes and regulations could afford renewable energy any advantage to access transmission lines.
  • 2009: USD Law students worked in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board's Chief Counsel to conduct legal research into a specific legal question related to auctioning allowances in a cap-and-trade scheme.
  • 2008: USD Law students conducted research for an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission related to the reinstatement of direct access in California, which allows customers to purchase electricity from a company other than their incumbent utility.

Application Process

Interested students should submit a brief statement of interest, resume and writing sample to Supervising Attorney Joe Kaatz, Supervising Attorney at kaatzj-11@sandiego.edu. Students also should sign up for a full course load and, if accepted into the clinic, can drop 3 credits to enroll. For additional information about the clinic, please contact Joe Kaatz at 619-260-4600 ext. 2870 or the above email.

Energy Law and Policy Clinic