Pace-NRDC Food Law Initiative | Pace Law School

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Pace-NRDC Food Law Initiative

About the Food Law Initiative

The Pace-NRDC Food Law Initiative launched in Fall 2015 as a collaboration between the Elisabeth Haub School of Law Environmental Law Program and the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The Pace-NRDC Food Law Initiative seeks to address the direct legal service needs of food justice organizations, farmers, and food entrepreneurs by increasing capacity of the legal community to meet those needs through education of law students and training of lawyers.  Legal services are vital to empower transitions to a more just and sustainable food system. In order to implement innovative practices, farmers, entrepreneurs, and other activists must navigate a complicated legal landscape governing everything from food labels to estate planning.  The Initiative seeks both to provide some of these necessary to legal services and to train a larger community of lawyers to understand food and agriculture issues. 

The Initiative’s initial programs include an externship program, placing a Pace student with the NRDC’s regional food team and an annual lecture series focusing on critical food law topics.  The first extern began work in January 2016, and the first annual lecture was held on January 27, 2016. 

The Initiative is starting a transactional food law clinic, details below.  This mission-driven clinic will serve some of the currently unmet legal needs of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regional food systems while also providing Pace law students with a unique opportunity for hands on transactional law experience. 

The Initiative is also developing a variety of educational programming focusing on concrete legal issues arising in the work of food justice organizations, farmers, and food entrepreneurs. 

Learn more about NRDC's Regional Food work.

2017 Highlights

Food and Beverage Law Clinic

Students in the Food and Beverage Law Clinic will provide transactional legal services to small- and medium-sized farmers implementing innovative and sustainable farming practices, mission-oriented food entrepreneurs, and food justice non-profit organizations. Students will complete projects in areas of critical need including access to land, access to capital, farm ownership succession and estate planning, eligibility for federal and state programs and benefits, and compliance with federal, state, and local regulatory law (including food safety law, labeling requirements, labor law, and zoning). Through their client work students will develop fundamental transactional legal skills including contract drafting, entity and deal structuring, negotiation, legal research and analysis, creative problem solving, and counseling.

The weekly seminar component of the Clinic will teach the substantive law and legal practice skills that will be most useful to students during the semester.  In addition, the seminar will provide an opportunity to discuss the role of law and lawyers in food systems and the practical, ethical and policy-based issues that arise in the context of lawyering on behalf of mission-oriented individuals and organizations.


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