As an incoming law student, Heather Drayton ’08 knew she wanted to study environmental law.
“I chose Hofstra Law because it is an exciting and challenging place,” says Drayton. “And I made sure to take advantage of every environmental law-related opportunity available during my time there.”
Around campus, Drayton was known as a dedicated and inspirational student, which led to her winning the Distinguished Service to the Law School Award, the Excellence in Environmental and Natural Resources Law Courses Award and the Pro Bono Gold Level Certificate. Her article “Economics of Electronic Waste Disposal Regulations” was published in volume 36 of the Hofstra Law Review in 2007.
While there were many high points during her academic career, Drayton notes several experiences that stand out, including working with Professor Katrina Kuh on the National Environmental Moot Competition Team and taking her Climate Change seminar. Drayton also enjoyed Professor James E. Hickey’s Energy and the Environment course and the Land Use Regulation course taught by Professor Richard Leland ’74. She also studied Administrative Law with Professor Vern Walker, and later served as his research assistant.
Drayton’s hard work and dedication definitely paid off. After graduating from law school, she was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and began working in the Office of Program Evaluation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General.
As part of her fellowship requirements, Drayton completed a seven-month detail as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section. In this role, she served as a member of the Power Plants Initiative Litigation Team for two Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration enforcement cases. She was also co-counsel on a Clean Water Act/Resource Conservation and Recovery Act enforcement case and an Oil Pollution Act/Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act cost-recovery case. Following her DOJ detail, Drayton returned to the EPA as a management analyst.
While Drayton does not represent the government as an attorney in her current role at the EPA, her position makes a notable impact on U.S. environmental policy. She is responsible for designing and managing studies that evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of complex federal programs to improve work operations and management controls. She also analyzes quantitative and qualitative data and applying innovative evaluation methods to write reports with recommendations for enhancing internal controls and the performance of EPA programs. She also works with teams to carry out the evaluation objectives.
But Drayton’s dedication to the environmental legal field does not end when the work day is over. She is a member of the Environmental Section of the New York State Bar Association and the Emerging Leaders Network, and she also serves as a Presidential Management Fellowship Program volunteer.
When asked what advice she would give to law students interested in environmental law, Drayton said she would encourage them to take advantage of all available opportunities during law school, such as internships and externships, alumni networking events and CLE programs.
That’s certainly an approach that served her quite well.