Law school receives $3.7 million donation

Wood Hall houses Lewis and Clark law school’s environmental law program. Photo by Aidan D'Anna

In early September, Lewis & Clark Law School announced that it had received a charitable bequest of $3.7 million from Washington environmental activist John E. Diehl to support public interest environmental law. The bequest, the second-largest single gift ever made to the law school, will support fellowships within the environmental law program, ranked first in the nation by U.S. News. 

According to a news release on the ­­LC Law School website, “The Diehl Fellowship stipends will supplement the income of recent graduates who are employed at public interest environmental organizations for one year. Preference will be given to those whose work is dedicated to resource conservation, wilderness and wildlife habitat and preservation, or human population stabilization.”

This fellowship will allow graduates more flexibility in the job field, according to Janice Weis, associate dean and director of the environmental, natural resources and energy law program.

“Since public interest organizations often have very tight budgets, the fellowship stipends will allow graduates to bring some funding with them to a public interest job,” Weiss said. “This will open up positions at a variety of organizations for which funding additional staff might be a challenge. 

As per Diehl’s request, the law school will match the bequest by offering scholarships to incoming first-year students interested in public interest environmental law. Weiss said that the law school was not aware of the bequest until after Diehl passed away in March 2016, at the age of 73.

“We presume he was aware of our national reputation as a premier environmental law school,” Weis said via email. “University of Washington Law School and two non-profits received money as well as Lewis & Clark.”

As stated in his obituary, Diehl was a “self-taught enthusiast in biology, zoology, and ornithology” and an advocate of sound environmental policies.

“His legacy will live on in generations of environmental attorneys and is a testament to the power of one person’s commitment to make a difference,” Jennifer Johnson, dean of the law school, said on the LC Law School website.

The law school hopes to fund the first set of fellowships for the graduating class of 2020.

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