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Just as more law firms are establishing global warming practice groups, law schools are crafting their own courses to address the legal issues of climate change. Many law schools are incorporating global warming into existing environmental law classes, but at least one school has developed a separate course covering litigation arising from the phenomenon. The University of Houston Law Center this semester is offering “Climate Change Litigation,” a two-credit course taught by prominent environmental law practitioners. The new course is part of a growing awareness in the legal community of the issues-and opportunities-related to global warming. “It’s an area of discussion at so many levels,” said Richard Alderman, University of Houston Law Center assistant dean for academic affairs. Firms ‘warming up’ The changes in law school curricula mirror the recent creation of global warming practices at several prominent law firms. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman announced in September that it was establishing a climate-change group. Other firms that recently started similar practices include Richmond, Va.-based Hunton & Williams, Seattle-based Davis Wright Tremaine and Denver-based Holland & Hart. The climate-change practices at most bigger firms provide advice to corporate clients in the manufacturing, energy and utilities fields. Houston Law Center is offering its course for the first time this semester. It is co-taught by Stephen Susman, a partner at Houston’s Susman Godfrey, and by Tracy Hester, a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani, also in Houston. Susman, generally a plaintiffs’ lawyer, covers the litigation side, while Hester focuses on regulation issues, Hester said. “It’s like a thinking laboratory,” said Hester, whose practice concentrates on enforcement defense and cost-recovery litigation. The course focuses on current litigation pertaining to climate-change policy and liability. It also looks at the role of litigation in forcing action to stem global warming. “We wanted to put it in the context of the legal system-not just the social and political issues-but all of that in the context of the law,” Alderman said. Instruction in climate change is becoming more common in law school course offerings. Many law schools recently have conducted panel discussions and symposiums on the issue. Next month, for example, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law will present “Coping with Global Warming,” a presentation by policymakers, scientists and legal scholars who will discuss the impact of global warming and the power of the legal community to address the problem. In addition, University of Pennsylvania Law School recently hosted “Responses to Global Warming: The Law, Economics and Science of Climate Change.”

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