Exploring the World of Environmental Law
From a young age, Eve Balistra ’22 has had a wide variety of interests and knew she wanted to help others. She received undergraduate degrees in both history and biochemistry from Muhlenberg College and considered continuing to medical school. After deciding she wanted to start on her path to service instead of pursuing a medical career, Balistra turned to the legal field and never looked back.
As soon as Balistra stepped foot on campus, she knew Villanova Law was the right fit for her. From her prospective student tour to orientation day, she appreciated the welcoming atmosphere and immediately felt like she was part of the Villanova Law community. While exploring different areas of study, Balistra realized she could meld her background in science with a career in environmental law.
Balistra found a breadth of environmental law opportunities at Villanova, including becoming involved with the Villanova Environmental Law Journal (ELJ), where she currently serves as the second-ever diversity editor. “This is such an important position for me,” commented Balistra. “Environmental law and environmental justice are making their way to the forefront of legislation, so the ELJ tries to include at least one article each edition that focuses on that aspect. I’m excited to oversee this and make a legacy for the diversity editor position.”
While exploring the different avenues of environmental law, Balistra interviewed for an externship with the Pennsylvania Office of General Counsel. She landed the position and was assigned to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), where she worked on various tasks, such as writing a brief, editing memos and presenting research projects. During her externship, Balistra learned about the many issues the department covers, which includes oil and gas management, water programs and field operations.
“I didn’t realize the scope of the DEP,” recalled Balistra. “They cover everything from individuals who may be disposing of waste improperly at home, all the way up to major corporations who may be potentially violating federal environmental laws. It was amazing see the collaboration between DEP and the Department of Justice or the Environmental Protection Agency after having learned about cooperative federalism in my environmental law class.
This summer, Balistra was awarded the PBA Environmental and Energy Law Section Minority Scholarship by the Pennsylvania Bar Foundation. Balistra plans to use the scholarship to build a website that can connect organizations and individuals to resources such as speakers and legal aid groups that will empower them to enact change within their communities.
“I applied for the PBA scholarship because it’s such an important and timely topic,” commented Balistra. “Environmental harms disproportionally affect lower socioeconomic and minority groups, which means they are more likely to experience environmental hazards. Globally, climate change will affect developing nations more than it will places like the United States. I think it’s an important subject that a lot of people don’t realize, so I feel that I have the position and ability to educate everyone on these issues.”
Balistra’s Villanova Law experience has reaffirmed her desire to become an environmental lawyer and has provided her with valuable resources and connections that she hopes to utilize moving forward. “I’m doing relevant work and gaining real-world experience in the environmental law field, which will undoubtedly be beneficial in my career after law school.”