History of the Law Center

Crane Hollow by Kim McCoy

The Ohio Environmental Council’s legal team for many years consisted of outside counsel assisting OEC policy staff in filing lawsuits. This grew, in 2003, out of a relationship forged between the Ohio Environmental Council and Ohio Northern University and Capital University Law Schools, into the OEC Environmental Law Clinic.

The OEC Law Clinic, as it was known in its infancy, provided law students with the opportunity to gain hands on experience in environmental law and real world education in conservation advocacy. These students performed legal research and drafting for OEC’s Clean Air, Water, and Legislative Program.

In 2009, the legal division of the OEC evolved into the William W. Ellis, Jr. Ohio Environmental Law Center. While continuing our work with outside counsel and our internship program, the Law Center was created to become the environmental law hub in Ohio – providing legal analysis, legal education, and legal advocacy to protect and conserve Ohio’s human and natural resources.

View a timeline of highlights from the history of the OELC.

Today, the Ohio Environmental Law Center prides itself on being the legal backbone of the OEC’s great policy work, and continues to educate tomorrow’s environmental lawyers. Since the beginning, the Law Center has:

  • opened its doors to budding environmental lawyers from all of Ohio’s Law Schools; 
  • fought to protect the rights of Ohioans to have clean water, healthy air, and a greener energy future before the Public Utilities Commission, Environmental Review Appeals Commission, Ohio Courts and at the Statehouse; and 
  • provided Ohioans with a place to turn for guidance and analysis of environmental and conservation issues.

The Ohio Environmental Law Center is named for the late William W. Ellis, partner at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Columbus.

Mr. Ellis was an accomplished corporate attorney, naturalist and botanist, and along with his wife Jane Ann, established the Crane Hollow Nature Preserve (pictured). His complete devotion to both the law and to ecology is the inspiration for all we do at the Ohio Environmental Law Center.