Read Porter, HLS ’05, is a former ELS member and editor-in-chief of the Environmental Law Review. With a degree in geology from Amherst College, Mr. Porter arrived at HLS ready to take advantage of its opportunities and expand on his environmental background. Even though at the time HLS had no permanent environmental faculty, visiting professors like Professor Jody Freeman and Professor John Leshy, past Solicitor of Interior, taught intensive courses on a variety of issues that helped Porter shape his own interests and research. Outside of class, Mr. Porter spent his first summer at Trustees for Alaska working on Endangered Species Act listings, among other issues, and his second summer with the Environmental Defense Center, a non-profit based in Santa Barbara with a focus on central California, working on land conservation and marine issues. He spent the summer after graduation at Foley Hoag LLP in Boston.
Following his graduation from HLS, Mr. Porter went on to clerk for the Honorable Julia Smith Gibbons on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He then joined the Environmental Law Institute as a staff attorney, where he continues to work today. At ELI, Mr. Porter has had unique opportunities to develop his own programs and research agendas, which includes directing ELI’s invasive species and fisheries and aquaculture work. Mr. Porter says one of his favorite things about ELI is the broad range of topics it covers, from nanotechnology regulation to offshore wind studies, which allows its staff to pursue a wide variety of interests.
Mr. Porter suggests that students interested in a career in environmental law start to think about their long-term goals as early as possible in order to better position themselves to take advantage of the many opportunities at HLS. He also recommends that students study courses not traditionally viewed as environmental, such as corporations, bankruptcy, and tax law, since these areas can have major environmental components and often lack skilled environmental lawyers. Finally, he views clerking as a valuable experience, but notes that it would be a mistake for students to choose course loads based on what they think a judge may or may not like. Instead, students should focus on what they are passionate about, which a judge may ultimately appreciate as much as a more generalist background.