Public Interest Environmental Law – Playing Fields

I’m looking forward to Minnesota’s Environmental Institute this Thursday, April 19. Unsurprisingly, there are various presentations by the usual suspects – environmental practitioners for business and corporate interests. 

But, the Environmental Institute also makes space to hear from public interest environmental lawyers, including a presentation I’ll make with Steve Morse of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership and Scott Strand, from Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

A couple tidbits. Did you know that non-governmental public interest lawyers make up less than 3 percent of the “environmental” lawyer bar? A 2009 law review analysis by Professor Bonine includes the following statistics:

Business Environmental Lawyers                          20,000-30,000
Government Environmental Lawyers                   2,000
Citizen’s Environmental Lawyers                              750
Non-profit Salaried Litigators                                 250
Non-profit Salaried Non-Litigators                         250
Private Non-Salaried Public Interest Lawyers       250

Did you know that the 2012 National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy found that the 2% of environmental groups that have budgets over $5 million received more than 50% of grants?  Not much support for local citizens’ groups and grass roots.

Check out my presentation materials for the Environmental Institute,  ”Private Practice of Environmental Law – Leveling the Playing Field.”

One cautious thought about using the playing field metaphor, from Louis Kelso and Bill Moyers (1990):

“The Roman arena was technically a level playing field. But on one side were the lions with all the weapons, and on the other the Christians with all the blood. That’s not a level playing field. That’s a slaughter. And so is putting people into the economy without equipping them with capital, while equipping a tiny handful of people with hundreds and thousands of times more than they can use.” 




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One Response to Public Interest Environmental Law – Playing Fields

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