By Tess Mackey, Virginia Sea Grant Correspondent
A new class of William & Mary law students has joined the Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC). These students will conduct legal and policy analysis for coastal communities and participate in state-level policy meetings. This week, we’re highlighting VCPC students and the coastal policy questions they’ve been tackling this semester.
This Spring, two VCPC students will work together to examine the complexities facing the ownership of drainage in Mathews County, Virginia, where a system of drainage ditches across the county is often flooding nearby roads and properties. The County is one of the lowest lying in coastal Virginia, and the drainage ditch system is critical to keep roads and farm fields functioning. Additionally, with the impacts of climate change, the County will likely see some significant changes in the coming years. The VCPC students will establish a protocol to identify ownership and maintenance responsibility.
Read on to learn more about the students working on the project.
Nate Flanders believes that having work experience prior to starting law school was a critical part of preparing him for a legal career. Having worked for two federal organizations while a student at William & Mary’s Law School, Flanders hopes to expand his experience on a local level as a student in the VCPC this semester.
He’s interested in the impacts climate change may have on the County’s drainage system and land in general. “The fact of the matter is, with sea level rise it’s going to be such a different area,” says Flanders.
Flanders attended Texas Christian University as an undergraduate, where he studied history with a minor in Asian Studies. He is in his third year at William & Mary’s Law School and is currently a Senior Articles Editor for the Business Law Review Journal.
Matthew Hubbard has had a lifelong interest in environmental conservation. As a child, he volunteered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and grew seagrass in his basement to help restore local aquatic vegetation.
This childhood passion for nature developed into an interest in environmental law in adulthood. Last semester, Hubbard returned to CBF as a Virginia Legal Intern, where he conducted research and policy analysis of wetlands regulations. He also learned more about the VCPC, since VCPC Director Roy Hoagland was once the CBF vice president of environmental protection and restoration.
For Hubbard, his project with the VCPC hits close to home. “I have family in Mathews County, and this has been an issue for a while,” says Hubbard. In fact, his grandmother, the librarian at the Public Library, was so excited to hear that her grandson would be tackling these issues that she “offered full use of the resources of the Mathews County library.”
Matthew is from Richmond, Virginia and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington as a political science major. He is in his second year at William & Mary’s Law School, where he is a member of the National Trial Team and Assistant Symposium Editor for the Environmental Law and Policy Review. Hubbard also worked on Senator Tim Kaine’s 2012 Senate campaign.
The VCPC is an ongoing collaboration between the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Virginia Sea Grant, and William & Mary Law School. It provides science-based legal and policy analysis of critical and coastal management issues to state and local governments and educates the Virginia policymaking, non-profit, legal, and business communities about these subjects.