LLM Interview: Pace Law | Professor Jason J. Czarnezki

Share with

FindyourLLM would like to thank Professor Czarnezki for his time and the insights he shared with us.

Name: Jason J. Czarnezki

Country: United States of America


Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, Executive Director of Environmental Law Programs

Education: BA, University of Chicago, JD, University of Chicago Law School

About Professor Jason

Professor Jason Czarnezki is the chairman of the Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, since 2013. He is also the executive director of environmental law programs. Part of his role is to determine the strategic position as well as enhance the quality of teaching as well as the reputation of Pace law school. His senior leadership position allows him to define both the administrative and executive line Pace Law School is to adopt. As an expert of environmental law, at an international level himself, Professor Jason Czarnezki is in the perfect position to be leading the program. His impressive resume and passion for the subject are both a source of motivation and an asset to his position within Pace Law School.

The environmental program at Pace already benefits from a world­class reputation and we have no doubt that with Professor Jason Czarnezki at the reins, this will only increase.

Why Pace Law School?

With its breadth and depth of specialty offerings, the Pace Environmental Law Program is one of the best in the world. It presents unparalleled opportunities to learn environmental law through our dozens of specialized courses, nationally recognized research centers, and unique internships and externships. Its dedicated, accessible faculty and alumni and its status as the only major environmental law program in New York set it apart from the competition.  As one of the first schools in the world to offer graduate programs in environmental law, Pace also has a strong tradition of welcoming international students, scholars, and practitioners into our community.

What is the alumni network like? How many alumni do you have? What are their positions and in which countries are they working now?

Pace Law boasts a formidable environmental law alumni community with over 1,500 JD, LLM, and SJD alumni specializing in environmental law. These alumni work in government, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors across the United States and in over thirty countries around the world. Domestically, we have particularly active alumni communities in the New York-Washington, DC corridor. Internationally, Pace alumni live and work in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Oceania, and South America, where we are very proud of our strong alumni community in Brazil. LLM alumni have gone on to: lead and litigate at nonprofit organizations such as Waterkeeper International; serve as staff attorneys for government agencies and projects; work at the United Nations; form their own environmental law firms; hold professorships at FGV Direito Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Wits University in Johannesburg, and elsewhere; and take on Fulbright projects and fellowships abroad.

Pace Law School has an Environmental LLM program with three optional specializations. How do these specializations help students gain recognition as respected environmental lawyers internationally?

We offer environmental LLM specializations in Climate and Energy Law, Global Environmental Law, and Land Use and Sustainability Law. The specializations guide students through the basic and advanced courses they need to become well versed in these complex, niche subfields of environmental law. By completing a specialization within the LLM, a student can demonstrate interest and expertise in that particular area to future employers and colleagues. The specializations also correspond to our Energy and Climate Center, Global Center for Environmental Law, and Land Use Law Center. Students often take on research projects and internships at the center related to their chosen specialization. In addition to the three specializations, we offer a more flexible, traditional environmental LLM option that allows students to choose courses of interest from the entirety of the environmental law curriculum offered while they are at Pace.

Who are your professors? Do you have many practitioners teaching in your programs?

Pace's environmental law faculty consists of seventeen fulltime professors and clinicians, each with their own areas of expertise within the field – from international and comparative law to energy and climate law to land use and food law and beyond. The faculty includes some of the founders of environmental law in the United States, such as Professors Nicholas Robinson and Richard Ottinger, recognized as international leaders in the field. It also includes those who followed their example to innovate within the field, such as Pace LLM alumnus Professor Karl Rabago, and rising stars such as Professor Margot Pollans. In addition to our fulltime faculty, Pace draws upon currently practicing lawyers to teach small seminars in the areas in which they practice. These adjunct professors include partners at boutique environmental law firms, attorneys from environmental regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and staff attorneys for environmental advocacy organizations like Riverkeeper.

Pace's environmental law faculty are remarkable not only for their scholarly and professional achievements but for the relationships they build with their students. The level of accessibility, collaboration, and mentoring that Pace faculty provide often comes as a pleasant surprise to students.

Pace Law is one of the top environmental law programs, a 35-minute train ride from Midtown Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, and a high-speed train ride away from Washington, DC. Does the location of the school help students find good opportunities to practice their skills as lawyers?

Pace's location in the New York City area is one of its great advantages over other programs offering degrees in environmental law. New York and Washington, DC are two of the great hubs of environmental law and practice, and our students have easy access to internships and jobs within those hubs. Our New York and DC Externship programs, as well as our United Nations Environmental Diplomacy Practicum, allow students to earn academic credit while interning with public interest environmental organizations.  Regardless of whether they end up working in either city after graduation (many do), our environmental students benefit from the chance to expand their networks and grow their professional skills in two of the most cosmopolitan and international cities in the US.

Another huge benefit to Pace's location in White Plains is its close proximity to the Hudson Valley, the place where the environmental law movement was founded in the United States and a beautiful place to spend time in nature. Our students, faculty, and staff can easily go hiking in scenic state parks or kayaking on the Hudson River in the morning and spend their afternoon enjoying New York City.

What kind of students are you looking for? What are the career possibilities for students graduating from your LL.M. programs?

Pace looks for students with a genuine interest in environmental law and strong, diverse academic, professional, and personal backgrounds. We look at the whole picture when we assess applicants. Our students range from seasoned practitioners to recent law school graduates, from passionate protectors of the environment to businesspeople, and everyone in between. Our graduates can use their time at Pace to prepare for a wide variety of careers as government attorneys, nonprofit and public interest advocates and activists, private practitioners, professors, corporate counsel, and more.

Would you like to give any advice to future LL.M Students?

In choosing a law school, prospective students interested in environmental law should consider the breadth of the school's environmental law curriculum, whether the school offers training in environmental legal skills, the existence of an environmental externship program, and the number of faculty engaged in fields such environmental, natural resources, energy, and land use law.

Find out more about Pace law here.

In this article

Pace University Elisabeth Haub School of Law is a small law school with a worldwide reputation in environmental and international law. Our beautiful campus is located just outside New York City, offer...