Publication Title

Washburn Law Journal

Document Type



My definition of creativity in environmental law is any legal initiative that advances the subject with new levels of analysis, structure, or institutional bridges. There are two requirements: improvement on function and novelty. Law is better if it increases the prospect of protecting the natural world or its inhabitants. Law is novel if it combines mandate, process, or structure in unusual ways.

There are reasons to suspect that environmental law as a field may be more creative than other legal subjects such as trust and estates, contracts, property, or tax law. One reason, as Oliver Houck has said, is that environmental law is subversive in principle. Its basic premise is that other legal endeavors have failed fundamentally to protect the natural world.

Environmental law began as an outsider's law, a skeptic's law. Indeed, it was the law of the scofflaw in the sense that attorneys entering the field could see that every corner of settled law had bypassed their mission.

We will start with these "who's" that have given environmental law its unique energy and force. We will survey legal innovation as it has appeared among environmental laws' risk-takers, mimics, optimists, symbolists, geniuses, subversives, leveragers, paradigm-shifters, opportunists, and workaholics.



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