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Georgia Sea Grant launches new legal program

Program exposes students to complex environmental policy challenges

By Allison Doyle, Georgia Sea Grant

Georgia Sea Grant has partnered with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia to create the new Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program. This program offers students at University of Georgia School of Law the opportunity to work with legal and policy experts to address challenging environmental questions facing policymakers in coastal Georgia communities.

Selected law students work as paid student legal fellows during the academic year or summer. Students will gain practical experience in collaborating with local policymakers, scientists and business communities and in performing expert analyses to inform decision-making. “It is important for students to engage with real-world problems,” said Shana Jones, director of the Legal Program. “Fellows will work with multiple stakeholders to understand the environmental challenges facing coastal Georgia.” Jones, program manager for the Institute’s Planning and Environmental Services Unit, has expertise in managing policy and legal issues related to land use and coastal flooding.

Two students have been selected as the inaugural Spring 2015 fellows. Hunter Jones, a third-year law student, is preparing policy memos focusing on the participation of coastal Georgia cities and counties in the Community Rating System (CRS), a federal program incentivizing communities to take steps to reduce their flood risk. Local governments can increase flood resiliency and lower flood insurance premiums for property owners on the coast through CRS participation. Jones has focused her legal studies on environmental law and is interested in a career in environmental policy.

Amble Johnson is a second-year law student and is working with Tybee Island on its preparations for sea-level rise. He is currently conducting research on the application of federal voluntary property acquisition programs to Tybee Island and other coastal Georgia communities. Johnson also serves as a research assistant at the Alexander Campbell King Law Library at UGA.

Both fellows are serving as co-chairs of the 27th Annual Red Clay Conference at the UGA School of Law taking place on February 27. This annual environmental law conference showcases a series of presentations, expert panels and open forum discussions on environmental issues facing the state and nation. For more information, visit http://www.law.uga.edu/red-clay-conference

As units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach, Georgia Sea Grant and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government help address Georgia’s most pressing issues and extend university resources to help Georgia and beyond prosper. The Carl Vinson Institute of Government conducts training, technical assistance and applied research to help state and local governments operate efficiently and effectively and provide improved service to the public. One of 33 state Sea Grant programs throughout the country, Georgia Sea Grant focuses specifically on enhancing coastal environmental, social and economic sustainability through research, education and outreach. The Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program is a partnership between these units dedicated to providing legal and policy analysis on coastal environmental issues and training legal students interested in environmental law. For more information on the program, see http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.

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