Summer Student Series 2022: Samuel Eisner

September 12, 2022

This summer I had the opportunity to work with East Coast Environmental Law as a Legal Research Intern. I was heavily motivated to pursue a career in law by my lifelong goal to help foster a more healthy and sustainable relationship between Canadians and the ecosystems they live in. I wanted to experience work that was meaningful, challenging, and a benefit to our lived environment. As an organisation comprised of steadfast advocates for environmental justice, I could not have been more excited than when I was awarded funding to work for East Coast Environmental Law.

The world, including Canada, is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. In 2020, the World Wildlife Fund found that Canadian populations of species at risk have dropped by an average of 59% between 1970 and 2016. As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Canadian government has acknowledged this crisis for decades but has unfortunately been slow to take the actions necessary to prevent further damage. Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to pass a standalone law designed to specifically promote the sustainable use of biodiversity as part of an integrated framework of legislation, and my primary role as a Legal Research Intern with East Coast Environmental Law this summer was to conduct legal research on the province’s new Biodiversity Act. My research focused on whether the Biodiversity Act is a viable legal tool to address this crisis effectively. As other provinces begin to follow in Nova Scotia’s footprints and enact biodiversity legislation of their own, East Coast Environmental Law wanted to understand what the positive and negative aspects of the Biodiversity Act were from a policy perspective.  

During my placement, I worked with East Coast Environmental Law’s Executive Director and Senior Lawyer, Lisa Mitchell. Lisa has advocated for Canadian governments to enact legislation designed to mainstream biodiversity across government and society for years and participated heavily in the public consultation process for Nova Scotia’s Biodiversity Act. While I drafted legal letters, combed through government documents, and analysed legislative debates and case law, the team at East Coast Environmental Law provided me with the technical knowledge and experience in environmental law needed to keep my research focused. 

Aside from my primary research project, I also had the opportunity to engage with ongoing environmental issues in Nova Scotia that I was interested in. East Coast Environmental Law’s constructive and collaborative work environment, combined with my interest in sustainable urban planning, led me to researching Nova Scotia’s new Special Planning Areas to understand how biodiversity is considered by administrators in practice. I gained experience in legal drafting and collaborated with members of public-interest organizations like the Ecology Action Centre. Having the chance to participate in this work not only bolstered my confidence in my ability to pursue a career in law, but has given me a newfound appreciation for the ways that lawyers interact with the public in a very human way. 

My experience at East Coast Environmental Law this summer has been an incredible learning experience that has reinforced my belief that supporting environmental justice is one of the best ways one can support their community. Having this perspective has given me a renewed sense of excitement for the law that will undoubtably serve as a source of inspiration during my second year of law school. I am so grateful for having been given the opportunity to work at East Coast Environmental Law, and I hope to be able to work for them again in the future. 


 Samuel Eisner Photo

Samuel Eisner

Samuel's work with us this summer was enabled by the Schulich Academic Excellence Fund for Internships, which is an internship funding program administered by the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University.