Teryn Yazdani: Advocating for Clients and Communities
by Lizzy Gazeley | Oct 20, 2021
Growing up in the South, Teryn Yazdani witnessed and experienced some of the most destructive impacts of climate change. She was in the fifth grade in Jackson, Mississippi, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. The devastating disaster impacted millions of people across the South and redefined our understanding of climate catastrophes in the United States. Teryn said witnessing catastrophes like Katrina and their impacts on local frontline communities sparked a critical realization: There was nothing natural about the magnitude of those catastrophes.
Teryn continued to foster her interest in climate change and environmental work during her undergraduate studies. At Tulane University she majored in environmental studies and anthropology. Through her academic work, she attempted to answer the daunting question,
“What can I do about climate change?”
Paving the way for a sustainable future
For Teryn, the answer came as somewhat of a surprise. While volunteering as an intern for an energy watchdog association, her supervisor made a seemingly off-handed comment. She suggested that Teryn should go to law school. Before that moment, Teryn had never imagined herself as a lawyer. But as her supervisor went on, she outlined the increasing need for environmental lawyers and leaders in the legal field to help fight fossil fuel energy companies and protect vulnerable populations from climate change impacts.
Teryn explored the potential pathway further by working at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic. She also enrolled in courses that discussed environmental law. Her growing engagement with grassroots climate action and a “passion for advocating for people on the frontline of environmental harm” prompted Teryn to take her supervisor’s advice.
Finding answers at Crag
After graduating from Tulane, Teryn attended Lewis & Clark Law School, earning her J.D. with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Teryn began working with Crag in 2019, during the summer after her second year of law school. She’d learned about Crag from her fellow Lewis & Clark student and now Crag colleague, Rebeka Dawit. After Rebeka recounted her experience as a Crag summer associate, Teryn knew that Crag would be a great fit. She began as a summer associate, assisting the Crag staff with several ongoing cases. Teryn continued her work at Crag as an extern that fall, along with her academic studies. Even though balancing being a full-time law student and an externship posed some challenges, Teryn described her work at Crag as an outlet. She enjoyed applying her academic studies to work experience.
Now as a legal fellow, Teryn has been busy assisting Crag’s attorneys with ongoing cases and leading Crag’s social media team. Teryn noted her appreciation for the opportunity to explore multiple areas of environmental law by jumping onto ongoing cases that focus on Oregon land use, climate change and more. Teryn attributes these learning opportunities to the invaluable mentorships that Crag’s staff fosters.
“I entered the environmental legal field to create meaningful relationships with my clients to fight together for a better world; my time at Crag continues to give me opportunities early on to do just that.”
Like many other Oregonians, Teryn relishes any opportunity to spend time outdoors hiking and camping. In addition to environmental work, Teryn is passionate about baking and music. Over the course of the pandemic, Teryn and her friends have creatively continued to kindle their love of music by hosting online jam sessions together.
From Mississippi to Oregon, Teryn continues her journey to find answers to climate change. Her eagerness to learn and delve into new avenues of environmental law has brought her closer with each passing day. Teryn is committed to advocating for underrepresented communities and protecting the environment. At Crag, we look forward to helping Teryn pursue these goals and thrive in the environmental law field.
Lizzy Gazeley is a Crag Communications Intern for Fall 2021. She is a recent graduate of Whitman College with a BA in Environmental Studies – Politics. In addition to her work at Crag, she is a full-time legal assistant and is studying for the LSAT.