Not everyone is lucky enough to discover a passion in life and pursue it. Jessica Chiavara ’12 was able to do both. During her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Chiavara discovered and began to pursue her interest in both law and environmental protection. Three years at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University validated her passion for these fields, and she is now an associate at an environmental consulting firm.
After graduating in May 2012, Chiavara began working at AlterEcho, a division of Tech Law, Inc., a nationwide company. For TechLaw she supports contracts with the Environmental Protection Agency, and for AlterEcho she aids commercial clients in implementing environmentally sound business practices. Renewable energy sources and greenhouse gas initiatives are among the green practices she works to promote. These solutions are not only good for the environment, but also help foster bottom-line growth for many clients’ businesses.
Chiavara found the transition from Hofstra Law student to working professional to be a smooth one. “While the work is challenging,” she says, “I am completely and totally prepared for it. I can just dive into the work.”
During her time at Hofstra Law, Chiavara worked closely with Professors James E. Hickey, Jr., and Carol Casazza Herman ’84, who helped guide her focus on environmental law. “Carol put me in touch with the New York League of Conservation Voters, and I got an externship there which eventually turned into a fellowship,” Chiavara says. “Professor Hickey was always available to talk to me about what kinds of projects to get involved in outside the law school. They were phenomenal as professors and phenomenal as mentors. I feel like I had a completely customized educational experience.”
Chiavara also advocates for environmental protection beyond her work at AlterEcho. She recently authored her first independently published article, “Taking to the Market: The Expanding Leverage of Local Governments to Drive Sustainable Transitions in the Private Sector,” for the Environmental Claims Journal.
The article discusses how recent treatment of the Dormant Commerce Clause by the courts has markedly expanded the regulatory and discretionary authorities of local governments, allowing state and local governments to wield ever greater influence on private-sector shifts toward sustainability and renewable energy development.
“I saw a policy opportunity that I wanted shouted from the rooftops,” she says. “The article was just the first step for me to participate in getting it out there.”
Chiavara also is interested in partnering with the scientific community on environmental policy and collaborating with her colleagues at AlterEcho on future articles, as well as volunteering with environmental nonprofits in the Chantilly, Virginia, area.
Pursuing a passion for environmental law or another specialized field, Chiavara says, can be an asset in today’s legal marketplace because it sets you apart. “If you have a passion, go for it,” she advises. “It will fuel your commitment to working hard, people will take notice and opportunities will follow.”