Course Details

The Water & Environmental Law concentration provides the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills that are critical in today's complex regulatory environment. This master course of study facilitates interdisciplinary excellence within government, non-profit, and private enterprise.

The courses for our online MSL in Water & Environmental Law are designed by our distinguished faculty and academic team to foster students who have the knowledge, professional skills, and broadened perspective required for the rapidly changing legal environment. McGeorge's accomplished faculty will challenge you with new ideas and will push you academically within a supportive, empathetic environment where faculty and staff are invested in your personal success.

The Master in Water & Environmental Law is comprised of both required and elective courses.

  • Introduction to Legal Analysis: This course provides students with an overview of the American legal system, including the sources and development of law as well as the dispute resolution process. The course further focuses on developing an understanding of how lawyers read and analyze cases, statutes, and legal documents and provides an introduction to legal reasoning. A primer on legal research with a focus on locating and evaluating the weight of legal sources is also included.
  • Analytical Skills (Contracts): This graduate course offers a practical introduction to a foundational area of law, such as Contracts, and to the legal method. Students will learn best practices for studying law and developing foundational legal analytical skills so that they may read and understand case law, statutes, and regulations. These analytical skills will include IRAC rule-based methodology as a structure for legal analysis, case-briefing, outlining, and test-taking. Students will also practice negotiating and drafting agreements.
  • Legislatures & Lawmaking: This online asynchronous course explores legislative institutions and lawmaking processes in state and federal government as well as basic principles of judicial review of legislative action. The course will provide opportunities for development of practical skills such as drafting statutory language, preparing and assessing bill analyses, commenting on legislation, and participating in the legislative process.
  • The Executive Branch & The Administrative State: This online course explores regulatory institutions and processes at the state and federal levels, with a focus on the relationship between the executive branch, the legislature, and the courts. The course will provide opportunities for development of practical skills such as drafting regulations and participating in the regulatory process, including commenting on agency action and responding to comments. Focus will be given to understanding the role of policy and methods for marshalling and assessing technical information.
  • Environmental Law: This course is a survey of legal principles and policies relating to protection and enhancement of the physical environment. Particular attention is given to common law doctrines and public rights and remedies; federal and state control programs for the fields of air pollution, water pollution, noise, solid waste management, fish and wildlife resources; planning for federal, state and local administrative agencies.
  • Water Resources Law: This course introduces the legal principles that control water allocation for human and environmental purposes, taught via online exercises such as lectures, readings, videos, discussion and research. Legal principles covered include: categories of surface and groundwater rights, management approaches, allocation for environmental purposes, federal-state relationships, tribal and reserved rights, reasonable use, waste, and the public trust doctrine. Students gain practical understanding of water allocation and use in contemporary society, as well as critically examine the social policies that govern water management.
  • Leadership in Organizations: This online asynchronous course explores skills necessary for professional competency and excellence in 21st century organizations. Working in and with public agencies is emphasized. Topics covered may include teams in organizations, cross-cultural dynamics, professional work product and communications, and professional ethics. Focus will be given to case studies and practical exercises.
  • Persuasive Public Speaking: This online course introduces students to the many aspects of persuasive public speaking including content, word choice, and delivery. Students study the theory of persuasion through reference to historical and social science sources. Students develop public speaking confidence by practicing their skills and receiving constructive feedback.

  • Natural Resources Law: Students examine the law and policy relating to the use of federally owned lands for the production or enjoyment of various natural resources. Major themes include the history of federal public land law and policy, the jurisdictional authority of the federal government and the states over public lands, and the respective roles of the federal legislative, executive and judicial branches in formulating and enforcing natural resources law and policy. Specific natural resources considered include water, minerals, timber, grazing, wildlife, recreation, and the preservation of historical and environmental values. (Practicum).
  • International Water Resources Law: This seminar focuses on the theoretical bases and practical application of the law governing international fresh water resources. Students study the principal cases and controversies in the field and analyze the most ¬significant global and regional instruments.
  • Government Law & Policymaking: This online asynchronous course introduces students to the lawyer's role in developing, modifying, implementing, advocating, and influencing public policy, including: legislation, regulations, executive orders, court orders, and other policy edicts at the national, state, and local levels. Students learn how to do policy analysis; learn the essential organization and procedures of the various policymaking venues; are able to consider and weigh strategic implications associated with the various venues and processes; conduct research using a variety of sources unique to policymaking in other federal and state settings; learn and develop skills for advocacy, negotiation and compromise in a policymaking setting; and practice applying course knowledge and skills to important public policy matters of the day. Students complete a project on an actual and current public policy problem.
  • Election Law: This online asynchronous course will cover the main doctrinal concepts that are necessary to the practice of election law, as well as offer practical assignments common in the day to day practice of political law attorneys. Coverage includes constitutional law and principles, campaign finance law, election administration, and the Voting Rights Act, among other topics.
  • Lobbying & Politics: This course explores how power and influence operate in state legislatures. The first part of the course examines the processes and pressures a legislator typically encounters prior to casting a vote in the Legislature, including campaigns for local and state office; fundraising; the influence of political parties and partisan leadership; grassroots supporters; and local-based interests. The second part of the course develops theories of legislative persuasion, including a blend of traditional advocacy skills and political strategy.
  • Negotiations: This course examines the theoretical, ethical, and practical skills essential to being an effective advocate in negotiations involving legal disputes. Students learn negotiation skills through lecture, discussion, video simulations, and extensive interactive exercises and role-plays. Students are introduced to negotiation tools and techniques that enhance negotiation success. This course helps students identify strengths and weaknesses in personal negotiating style.
  • Directed Research in Government Law & Policy: This course provides the opportunity for students to engage in a comprehensive individual research project under the supervision of a full-time faculty member. The work product may take the form of a scholarly paper, empirical study, analysis of topical readings, or other creative format that demonstrates in-depth legal research and original analysis.
  • Master’s Thesis in Government Law & Policy: This course provides an opportunity for students to write a thesis under the guidance of a full-time faculty member acting as supervisor. The thesis should present an original idea or ideas, demonstrate mastery of research skills appropriate to the field, and be analytical and/or critical, as opposed to merely descriptive. The final product should exemplify high quality academic writing consistent with the professional goals of the student, taking into account the supervisor’s and the student’s vision of the desired target audience for the product.

“I chose McGeorge because the classes build up specific knowledge about things that only people working in the field might know. It gets you a step ahead of the competition.”

— Brandon Chaidez ’18

“My decision to come to McGeorge was influenced in large part by the caliber and dedication of the professors here. The professors not only want to teach us the current law, but also encourage us to challenge laws that are antiquated or prejudicial to marginalized community members."

— Vallerye Mosquera ’15, Sacramento Immigration Attorney

"When I work with McGeorge alumni, they seem experienced, polished and able to connect the dots. The experience, attention to detail, and rigor of the program really shows, and for these reasons, we love hiring McGeorge students as law clerks at SMUD."

— Andrew Meditz ’09, Senior Attorney, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)