The Essential and Growing Role of Legal Education in Achieving Sustainability

31 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2009 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Date Written: September 9, 2009


This article suggests that law schools need to play a leading role in the national and global effort to achieve sustainability, including the effort to address climate change. The article first describes the various drivers for sustainability in law schools. Clients are increasingly demanding that their lawyers 'walk the talk,' as many businesses and corporations already are. The universities that provide an institutional home for most law schools are also adopting sustainability policies and practices that influence their law schools. Within the legal profession, the American Bar Association, as well as many state and local bar associations, have adopted a number of sustainability policies and practices, and a growing number of law firms and other law organizations are doing the same. The article then describes a broad and growing range of sustainability activities - especially in curriculum and scholarship, but also in buildings and operations; outreach and service; student life; institutional mission, policy, and planning; and external stakeholders.The article also raises - and tentatively suggests some partial answers to answers to - a set of normative questions about precisely what law schools should be doing.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability, legal education, law school, environmental law, climate change, biodiversity, Agenda for a Sustainable America, sustainable development-United States, nongovernmental organizations, law, governance, legal profession, lawyer, attorney

JEL Classification: K32, K49, Q01, Q28, Q38, Q48, Q58

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C., The Essential and Growing Role of Legal Education in Achieving Sustainability (September 9, 2009). Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-20, Available at SSRN: or

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics