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For Mentees

ACOEL Outreach Committee: Mentoring and Diversity Outreach Program (MDOP)

Welcome! MDOP is a service of ACOEL that connects individuals who are curious about careers in environmental law (Mentees) with experienced environmental lawyers (Mentors). MDOP helps Mentees discover what the practice of environmental law is, whether an environmental law career could be a good fit, and how to develop a career and professional network.  There are many ways to practice environmental law and just as many places (locations and organizations) in which to do it. MDOP is an opportunity to share the who, what, where, and how of environmental law careers, as well as to increase diversity in the profession. 

MDOP is open to curious undergrads, law students, new lawyers, and other professionals. There are a variety of ways to engage in the MDOP.  Mentors can present to groups or student organizations and Mentors can build individual Mentor/Mentee relationships. So long as Mentees express a genuine curiosity about a career in environmental law, they do not need a specific focus of study or professional experience to participate in MDOP. Scientific and engineering studies (STEM) are not a prerequisite for a successful environmental law career, although STEM professionals thrive in the environmental law arena. Several of our Mentors apply their scientific and engineering backgrounds to their work.

ACOEL. ACOEL is an organization of dedicated environmental lawyers with common purposes that include sharing knowledge with others in the field. ACOEL Fellows are:

  • conservationists, environmentalists, and professionals who promote the highest standards of environmental law practice and care genuinely about the work and clients that we represent.
  • government lawyers, private law firm partners, non-governmental organization advocates, and environmental law school faculty.
  • litigators, compliance counselors, policy makers, legislation authors, teachers. Some combine a love of science and law into a fulfilling career path.
  • active listeners, creative thinkers, and problem solvers.  

MDOP Mentors. A MDOP mentor will listen to your thoughts and plans, plus answer questions as you explore options in the field of environmental law. A MDOP mentor can help you access information to carve a path that matches your goals and values. A MDOP mentor can connect you with other ACOEL colleagues who will build your network of advisors.

Mentor/Mentee Matches and Diversity.  Mentors are Fellows of the ACOEL, experienced environmental lawyers from across the country, with a wide variety of practices (e.g., litigators, transactional attorneys, regulators, advisors, mediators), working in a wide variety of workplaces (e.g., private practice, government, non-profit, academia).  Mentees are law students, undergraduate students, new lawyers, and other professionals interested in learning about, or furthering, careers in environmental law.  MDOP is dedicated to attracting diverse students and diverse professionals to careers in environmental law. Mentors are available to present to diversity or affiliation organizations about the practice.   

The Mentor/Mentee relationship can be as simple as a phone call to get some general questions answered, or it may evolve into a longer-term, more traditional Mentor/Mentee relationship – the Mentors and Mentees decide.  The ACOEL Outreach Committee will pair Mentors and Mentees based on the information provided through the web links below. 

Virtual Career Presentations to Organizations. We encourage interested undergraduate organizations, lawyer associations, diversity and affiliation organizations, and STEM professional organizations, to contact the MDOP for presentations on careers in this field. We strive to schedule and host presentations at a mutually convenient time within approximately six weeks of a request. 

Are you Ready to Get Involved?

Mentees interested in participating in MDOP – please provide the following information to the MDOP Chairs Alexandra Dunn ( or Sean Hecht (
School and Law School Graduation Year:
Prior Experience in Environmental Law or Policy, if any (no experience required):
Brief Description of Your Goals:
Brief Description of How You Believe a MDOP Mentor Can Help you:
How did you hear about MDOP program?

Organizations seeking a virtual presentation on careers in environmental law –please provide the following information to the MDOP Chairs Alexandra Dunn ( or Sean Hecht (
Name of Organization Contact:
Name of Organization:
Contact information for Organization Contact:
The Relevance and Role of Environmental Law or Policy in your Organization:
Brief Description of Your Goals:
Brief Description of How You Believe the MDOP Mentor Program Can Help You Organization:
Description of Potential Mentees Within Your Organization That You Believe Can be Served by MDOP:
How did you hear about MDOP?


Check out our FAQs below or contact MDOP Co-Chairs:
Alexandra Dunn ( or Sean Hecht (

General Terms and Conditions for MDOP Participants:

  • The ACOEL is the vehicle for the MDOP; participants are the Mentors and Mentees or the organizations requesting a presentation.
  • Neither the ACOEL nor any MDOP participant is providing legal advice through MDOP.
  • Participation in MDOP does not represent an enforceable agreement to provide a service.
  • Participation in MDOP does not represent any promise of employment, nor is the relationship to be used for employment solicitation.


What is ACOEL?

The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) is a professional association of distinguished lawyers who practice in the field of environmental law.  Membership is by invitation and members are recognized by their peers as preeminent in their field.  ACOEL members are dedicated to maintaining and improving the ethical practice of environmental law; to the administration of justice; and to the development of environmental law at both the state and federal level.

Who are the Mentors?

Mentors are ACOEL Fellows who agree to participate. They come from all fields of environmental law, and all regions of the country.  Mentors may be in government, academia, private practice, or work for a non-governmental organization.  Some ACOEL Fellows are persons of diversity and others are not; to the extent that a Mentee seeks to make connections with diverse attorneys, Mentors will facilitate introductions through their personal networks and connections. 

Can I be a Mentee if I am not a law student or new lawyer?

Yes. MDOP is available to any individual who is curious about a career in environmental law. Undergraduate students regardless of academic emphasis, law students, new lawyers, and other professionals (including STEM professionals) are invited to participate, so long as Mentees express a genuine curiosity about a future career in environmental law. Students from all backgrounds—whether humanities, social sciences, or STEM fields— can succeed as environmental lawyers. While scientific and engineering studies are not a prerequisite for a successful environmental law career, STEM professionals thrive in the environmental law arena.  Regardless of your background, if the idea of an environmental law career prompts you to learn more, then you’re an eligible ACOEL Mentee.

Is MDOP a program to help Mentees get jobs?  

No. MDOP can help students and new lawyers build valuable knowledge and relationships, but MDOP is not a job board or a career service. MDOP is an opportunity to learn about the field of environmental law from experienced practitioners. 

Can I post a job to MDOP?


What’s the commitment expected of a Mentor?

As much time as the Mentor can reasonably give. When filling out the Mentor questionnaire, Mentors should be specific and realistic about the time they can and would like to provide.  Some Mentees may be looking for just a phone call to ask a specific question or to get started. Others may be looking for a longer-term Mentor/Mentee relationship. The Outreach Committee will do its best to match Mentors and Mentees with similar expectations.  

As a Mentee, when will I get matched with a Mentor?

After a Mentee submits a request and questionnaire, the ACOEL Outreach Committee will review it and match the Mentee with a Mentor.  We expect that effort to take only a few weeks in most cases

As a Mentee, can I pick my Mentor?

Mentees may request a Mentor and if that Fellow is participating in the MDOP, then we will make every effort to connect you. Please note that not every ACOEL Fellow is able to be a Mentor, and those that participate in the MDOP may not be able to satisfy the time commitment that a Mentee seeks. Mentees are prompted on the Mentee questionnaire to provide information that will help with matching.