Mother Nature Needs Pro Bono Lawyers
In the days between Earth Day and Arbor Day, our thoughts turn to spring, nature, and environmental sustainability. The increased attention given to environmental and climate change issues over the past few years has brought about local, national, and international concern for the health of our planet. In their annual reports, newsletters and on their websites, a number of companies and law firms emphasize their adoption and implementation of green business practices. Recycling programs, energy-efficient lighting, and the use of e-mail and technology instead of paper are just a few ways in which law firms and legal departments, and indeed all of us, reduce our negative environmental impact. Increasingly, organizations are introducing strategic and integrated approaches to managing the environmental impact of their business, in areas such as energy, waste, travel and procurement, in an effort to better manage their environmental footprints.
While these efforts are admirable and important, lawyers can go above and beyond in utilizing their legal training, skills, and expertise to propel environmental progress. There is an environmental opportunity to suit the interests and talents of every pro bono lawyer. Moreover, the range of environmental pro bono opportunities is broad and deep, with options for both small and large-scale projects and those that would appeal to litigators and non-litigators alike, while bypassing both traditional and positional conflicts.
By thinking creatively, pro bono lawyers can advance the health of our planet in a variety of ways, both locally and globally, and work to fulfill our responsibility to be stewards of the planet. Through pro bono engagements and partnerships with environmental organizations, pro bono lawyers can have a significant and meaningful impact, and be at the forefront of current and ongoing environmental legal efforts. In the words of EarthJustice, “the earth needs a good lawyer.”
Have you been involved in any eco pro bono work? Please leave a comment below and share your experience. To learn more about environmental pro bono opportunities and strategic partnerships with public interest environmental law firms and advocacy organizations, check out the Law Firm Pro Bono Project’s publication “Saving the Planet, One Pro Bono Matter at a Time,” which is available in our Resource Clearinghouse.