Discovery        3L looks to use law degree to help protect the environment

When 3L Chris Tavenor started his undergraduate career, he had every intention of going to medical school, but he soon realized he was more drawn to logic and argumentation. Knowing that he still wanted to make a difference in the world around him, he turned his attention to law school.

Starting law school with an interest in environmental law led Tavenor to become involved very early on, re-forming the Energy and Environmental Law Society his 1L year with fellow classmates.

With his goals set on pursing a career in environmental law after graduation, Tavenor has hopes of finding small ways to protect the environment at large and push forth policies on climate change.

Tavenor made it a point to pursue jobs that were related to public service and environmental law. This led him to the Office of International Affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy, working on a project connected with the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center as part of the Washington, D.C., Summer Program.

Tavenor became a research assistant for Moritz’ own environmental law expert, Associate Dean Cinnamon Carlarne, during his 2L year. Then during the spring of his 2L year, Tavenor participated in the Legislation Clinic at the Ohio House of Representatives, working for the general counsel of the democratic caucus.

Now, as an intern at Ohio’s major environmental nonprofit, the Ohio Environmental Council, Tavenor assists lawyers as they work to protect Ohio’s natural resources.

Aside from providing him with leadership opportunities, Tavenor credits Moritz for providing him with a strong academic foundation.

“Law school has improved my writing skills ten-fold, starting with the 1L writing curriculum,” he said.

Tavenor also described the encouraging and community-minded environment fostered by his fellow students at Moritz.

“Everyone is really friendly with each other; everyone wants to see each other succeed,” Tavenor said. “I think that comes out in class, when people are studying together, and in organizations. Everyone is working together to not only advance themselves but advance each other.”

Most recently, he became a part of Moritz’s Pro Bono Research Group as conference director, his way of engaging more directly with public interest law.

The growing group researches specific legal questions for attorneys working on pro bono cases. The symbiotic relationship helps busy attorneys finish their research and answer important questions, while giving law students plenty of research and writing practice.

For much of the fall semester, Tavenor worked tirelessly on the group’s conference aimed at discussing criminal justice reform, which took place on Jan. 27.

The event featured a presentation from the ACLU of Ohio, followed by a panel discussion. There were two break-out panels, one on the school-to-prison pipeline and another on surveying practitioners of criminal law discussing broader issues.

Two student organizations, the Criminal Law Society and Advocates for Children, assisted the Pro Bono Research Group in creating the break-out panels. Following the panels, the Ohio Innocence Project gave a presentation on their perspectives on criminal justice reform, Tavenor said.

Tavenor hoped the conference would educate people on the problems facing the criminal justice system and the solutions to those problems.

“Lots of people throw around the idea of reforming the criminal justice system, but they don’t necessarily have the specifics, and plenty of ideas exist from sources unknown to many concerned citizens,” Tavenor said.