The Environmental Law Institute (ELI), in partnership with the National Indian Law Library (NILL), is seeking a Law Clerk for the spring of 2024 to assist specifically with our Advancing Tribal Sovereignty and Community Health in California project.

About the Clerkship

In accord with our mission to build the skills and capacity of tomorrow’s leaders, ELI provides opportunities for law students to join us at the Institute. We welcome applications from current law students interested in working as a law clerk during the spring 2024 academic semester (approximately January/February to May).

Our goal of this project specifically is to identify gaps in existing state Tribal consultation laws and policies, determine best practices, propose policy solutions and, ultimately, bridge the gap between Tribal and agency understandings of impacts on environment, culture, and health, so that Tribes can meaningfully engage in environmental decision-making. The project addresses the misunderstandings, conflicts, and adverse impacts on Tribal communities that often arise during state and local environmental decision-making, using California as a pilot.


Project partners include one California Native American Tribe. ELI and NILL are collaborating to develop a digital repository of Tribal consultation policies and resources, including best practices, multimedia, and training modules. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action and Henry Luce Foundation provide support.

As valued team members, Law Clerks will advance the project, making meaningful policy and legal contributions to scholarship. They are encouraged to take initiative while benefitting from the mentorship of the Principal Investigators and other subject matter experts. The primary assignment is to conduct detailed analysis of government-to-government consultation in selected jurisdictions. Additional tasks may include: exploring the nexus between consultation and local climate adaptation planning; creating case studies of consultation under California law in conjunction with Tribal partners; evaluation of consultation policies; and developing training module content for the Digital Consultation Hub.


We encourage law clerks to supplement their work experience by attending the seminars and events that ELI hosts, as well as social and networking opportunities provided by ELI and our partners.


  • Eligibility is limited to students enrolled in law school (2L or 3L).
  • Completed coursework in Native American and Administrative Law.
  • Excellent skills in policy and legal research and analytical writing.
  • Ability to become proficient in new issue areas and contribute to creative, rigorous, analytical approaches to address them.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Well-developed collaborative and interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrates self-awareness, cultural competency and inclusivity, and ability to work with colleagues and stakeholders across diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Although not required, familiarity with Tribal communities and cultures, an understanding of state/local government policymaking or agency bureaucracy, and coursework in Environmental, Natural Resources, and/or State/Local Government law are helpful.

About ELI and NILL

Since 1969, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy, and management. ELI is an internationally recognized, non-partisan research, publishing, and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide. The Institute delivers insightful and impartial analysis and capacity-building to communities, stakeholders, and environmental professionals, including government officials.

The National Indian Law Library (NILL) of the Native American Rights Fund is a law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. NILL maintains a unique and valuable collection of Indian law resources and assists people with their Indian law-related research needs.


ELI provides clerks an hourly wage of $25.00. In order to participate in the paid law clerk program you must be physically present in the DC metro area (where ELI’s office is located) during the clerkship. If a clerk desires to receive course credit for the clerkship and the clerk’s school prohibits earning income for the same work as the course credit is being received, accommodations can be made.

Clerkships during the academic year run approximately 12 weeks, and clerks can work 8-12 hours per week.

How to Apply

To apply, submit an application package via ELI’s online application system by visiting Note that your submission must contain the following uploaded documents (Word or PDF format), as follows:

  • Cover letter
  • Résumé (college and law school GPAs optional)
  • List of 3 references
  • Law school transcript
  • Brief legal writing sample (10 pages maximum, non-collaborative)

Applications must be submitted no later than SUNDAY DECEMBER 31, 2023, at 11:59pm EDT and will be reviewed on a rolling basis. You must use ELI’s online application system; ELI cannot accept applications submitted by email, USPS or other shipping service, or hand delivery.

Please note that to ensure the health and safety of the ELI workforce, any offer of employment from ELI is contingent on candidates providing proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.  ELI management will consider requests for religious or medical exceptions, consistent with applicable law.

ELI is an equal opportunity employer firmly committed to achieving an inclusive, diverse workforce that values every individual. We firmly believe that hiring individuals with varying perspectives and backgrounds contributes to our success as an organization, and we strive to create an environment that fosters inclusiveness. As such, minority candidates and candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.


Support for this project was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation


This clerkship program is dedicated to the memory of Swinomish Elder and cultural leader Larry Campbell (wanaseah), who walked on in February 2023. As a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and Community Environmental Health Specialist for the Swinomish Tribal Community, he centered traditional teachings and cultural knowledge in all his work. Larry was a tireless advocate for Native people who pushed for advances in policies and regulations in front of Congress, federal agencies, and other key decision-makers. Larry never balked at speaking truth to power, especially about the impacts of climate change on Indigenous peoples. At the Inaugural First Stewards climate conference he declared, “We don’t need another white paper about how to make change. We need a red paper.” He was involved with multiple boards and organizations and led countless cultural orientations. For this project, Larry worked with longtime friend and colleague Dr. Jamie Donatuto in developing Indigenous Health Indicators.