Environmental Law Section

News from the Section

Winners of 2015 Student Negotiation Competition Announced:

  • First Place – California Western School of Law (R) Braden Drake and Amy Vaughn
  • Second Place – Southwestern Law School (J) Vardan Ksachukyan and Alexandria Davis
  • Third Place – UCLA School of Law (K) Gregory Maestri and Sarah Kozal
  • Fourth Place – Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Q) Mark Marion and Chelsea Grover
  • Fifth Place – Whittier Law School (X) Mykhal Ofili
  • Sixth Place – Chapman University, Fowler School of Law (B) Heidi Stryker and Ryan Deegan
  • Seventh Place – Western State College of Law (E) Emma Popiolkowski and Yumi Choe
  • Eighth Place – Lincoln Law School (M) Elizabeth Fortune-Harndy and Sarah Bain
  • Ninth Place – UC Hastings College of the Law (N) Thomas Russell and Daniel Xuli
  • Tenth Place (tie) – Southwestern Law School (I) Diana Shaginian and Jason Barth
  • Tenth Place (tie) – UC Irvine School of Law (W) Ryan Ueda and Steven Kim

The Environmental Law Fellowship Program

View of Wind FarmThe Environmental Law Section of the California State Bar has created an Environmental Law Fellowship program to provide opportunities for law students to work in governmental and public-interest environmental law organizations in order to develop their interests and skills in the field of environmental law. 

The program provides opportunities for law students to spend 8 to 10 weeks over the summer practicing environmental, energy, land use, and/or natural resources law at a participating government agency or public interest organization.  Each participant receives a $5,000 stipend for participating in the program.  The Section assists students with placement at the governmental agency or public interest organization and matches the Fellows with mentors who practice in the field.  The Section also coordinates gatherings and provides opportunities for Fellows to meet other Section members and attorneys who practice in environment, energy, land use, and resources law fields. For more information and the application, see Environmental Law Fellowship Program.

Webinar: Where's the Line?: Ethical Tensions Between Public Disclosure, Our Ethical Duties as Lawyers, and Constitutional Rights

Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 12 noon - 1:30 p.m.

This program offers 1.5 hours participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance in order to participate.

Unique ethical issues confront lawyers practicing administrative law in the land use entitlement and environmental enforcement contexts. Whether representing a public agency, a property owner, or another interested party such as an environmental group, union, neighbor, or neighborhood group, lawyers have ethical duties to clients. Public agencies also must comply with open records and meetings laws as well as other laws designed to further transparency. Real parties and interested parties have Constitutional rights to petition government, yet concerns about ex parte communications and undue influence sometimes restricts such outreach. This panel will outline the framework of these potentially competing rights and responsibilities, discuss how recent appellate cases highlight the tension between these various duties, and consider strategies to balance these issues without running afoul of our ethical responsibilities as attorneys.


  • Stanley W. Lamport, Esq., Cox Castle & Nicholson LLP
  • Robert "Perl" Perlmutter, Shute Mihaly & Weinberger
  • Charity Schiller, Best Best & Krieger

Moderator: Beth Collins-Burgard, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP

The Administrative & Public Environmental Law Conference

Friday, June 12, 2015
UC Hastings College of the Law
198 McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Presented by The State Bar of California Public Law Section Co-Sponsored with Environmental Law

We gratefully acknowledge UC Hastings College of the Law for the contribution of its facility and generous support for this event

You can now REGISTER ONLINE for this program. Click here for more details.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2015 Award

The Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California is pleased to announce that it is accepting nominations for the 2015 Award for Lifetime Contribution to the Field of Environmental Law. The Environmental Law Section established this award to recognize environmental lawyers who have contributed to the field of environmental law over a sustained period, achieved excellence in the practice of environmental law, and provided legal services with high ethics and collegiality. For more informattion and nomination form, see Environmental Law Section Lifetime Achievement Award.

Environmental Law Update -- January-March 2014

Since 1999, the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of California has sponsored the Environmental Law Section Update. The Update reports quarterly on recent Federal and California case law of note, as well as significant legislative and regulatory developments. The Update is a member benefit posted in our members-only area.

Click HERE to go directly to The Update and enter your State Bar Number and password. If you haven't created an account on My State Bar Profile, you can do so at https://members.calbar.ca.gov.

For an expanded discussion of this and other state and federal environmental cases from January-March, follow the links below.

Any questions regarding The Update should be directed to Cyndy Day-Wilson at cday-wilson@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

Environmental Law Section to Award Its Inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to the Late Professor Joseph L. Sax

Joseph SaxThe Environmental Law Section is honored to present its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Professor Joseph L. Sax, a true pioneer in the development of environmental law who passed away on March 9th of this year. The Section has established this award, to be presented annually, to recognize California environmental lawyers who have contributed to the field of environmental law over a sustained period, achieved excellence in the practice of environmental law, and provided legal services with high ethics and collegiality.

Prof. Sax was selected to receive this inaugural award from a large pool of highly qualified candidates due to his significant and profound role in shaping modern environmental law. Prof. Sax was the principal voice behind the modern application of the public trust doctrine to the protection of natural resources, and he was a renowned expert on water, endangered species, and regulatory takings law. As a teacher, he has been a mentor and inspiration to many current and environmental lawyers, and as an author of works such as Mountains without Handrails and Playing Darts with a Rembrandt, his influence will continue to inspire future generations of environmental lawyers. The Environmental Law Section will formally present the award at the Saturday night banquet at this year’s Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite®, where Prof. Sax’s daughters will be on hand to receive it on his behalf.

It's Easy To Be Green: How To Sign Onto The State Bar Eco-Pledge -- And Get Recognized at the Yosemite Conference!

Lawyers for a Sustainable CaliforniaHave you wondered what more your office can do to reduce energy and resource demands? Law offices in all sectors are taking steps to be more sustainable in their operations. Saving energy and resources not only supports sustainability goals, impressing clients and elevates employee morale. These efforts can also translate into significant cost savings for the operation.

If your firm or law office is working to become more sustainable, or wants to do so, in just three easy steps your law practice can sign onto the California State Bar Eco-Pledge. Once it does, your organization can use the State Bar Eco-Pledge Logo on firm materials to demonstrate this commitment to sustainability.

Step 1: Review the Voluntary State Bar of California Lawyers Eco-Pledge and Model Law Office Sustainability Guidelines. Adopted by the Board of Governors, these Guidelines include a list of specific means to conserve, reuse, recycle and reduce the use of supplies, energy and natural resources. The Guidelines cover a range of issues, including the following:

  • Educate Staff
  • Reduce paper use
  • Use sustainable service providers
  • Eliminate disposable items
  • Reuse/recycle equipment and supplies
  • Reduce toxic chemicals
  • Use and encourage “green” meetings
  • Reduce water usage
  • Reduce energy use
  • Develop sustainable IT practices
  • Purchase sustainable products
  • Provide commuter incentives
  • Engage in sustainability related public service consumption
  • Participate in programs that encourage best practices
  • Carpool, bike and public transit
  • Recycle paper

Step 2: Assign someone at the firm to take the lead on implementing the policy (as is feasible for the individual firm) and commit to educate employees about the policy.

Step 3: Take the Eco-Pledge! Fill out the simple one-page form and submit it to the Environmental Law Section.

The Eco-Pledge is voluntary and there are no inspections or compliance audits, but the simple act of putting someone at the firm in charge of the issue, educating employees about the measures that have been implemented, and revisiting the commitment annually will translate into increased sustainability of your operations in addition to cost savings to your firm.

The nearly 40 law firms that have already taken the Eco-Pledge are listed on our Section website. In addition, we will be providing special recognition at this year’s Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite to all the firms that have taken the Eco-Pledge and determined that sustainability is core to their business. We urge those offices that are interested in sustainability to sign up now and receive recognition at the Conference. You too can be green. Take the initiative and take the State Bar Eco-Pledge!

Environmental Law Section Receives For People Of Color, Inc.’s 2014 Diversity Award

For People of Color, Inc.Alexander “Sandy” Crockett, Chair of the Environmental Law Section Executive Committee, and several other current and former Committee members, were recently on hand to accept For People of Color, Inc.’s (FPOC) 2014 Diversity Award, which was given to the State Bar of California Environmental Law Section in recognition of its “demonstrated and sustained commitment to diversifying the profession.”

FPOC ReceptionAs Section Chair, Sandy stated that "It is a great honor for the Environmental Law Section to be recognized for its continued commitment to diversity, which is an important element of the Section’s mission statement." The Section presents a highly acclaimed Environmental Conference at Yosemite each October, has provided scholarships and fellowships to numerous diverse and other students and professionals, and has partnered with FPOC and others at various events.

FPOC provides free, high-quality law school admissions consulting services to thousands of prospective law school applicants.FPOC has been widely recognized as a leader in its efforts to diversify the profession by addressing “pipeline” issues. Its workshops and publications are open to all students, but its efforts are premised on a belief that assisting students of color in accessing law schools and the legal profession is one of the best ways to realize the goal of a California bar more that more closely reflects the state’s diverse population. FPOC has been credited with assisting diverse students gain admission to the country’s most selective law schools.

The presentation was a part of the "A Night Out With FPOC" event held on the evening of July 10th at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco. At this event, FPOC also presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Eva Paterson, President & Co-Founder of the Equal Justice Society, and a Trailblazer Award to Attorney Sergio C. Garcia.

See more photos on the Sections & CYLA Facebook page.

The State of California and Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols to Receive Environmental Law Institute's 2014 Environmental Achievement Award

Mary NicholsThe Environmental Law Institute (ELI), a widely respected environmental law and policy organization based in Washington, D.C., has announced that it will present its 2014 Environmental Achievement Award to the State of California and Mary D. Nichols, the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board. This is the first time in the award’s 30-year history that ELI has honored a state. ELI will present the award at the organization’s annual award dinner on October 21 in Washington, D.C.

ELI announced that it has chosen Chairman Nichols and California for the award in recognition of "their decades of remarkable leadership in advancing innovative programs to protect and enhance the environment and our natural resources, combat climate change, and transition to a new energy economy." ELI Chair Edward L. Strohbehn Jr. explained that "Mary Nichols and California are pioneers in protecting our plant from environmental threats. Their achievements are legendary. They are leading us to a better future." ELI President John C. Cruden added that "Mary Nichols and the State of California represent the gold standard of our profession, achieving significant progress through different Administrations, leading, advancing, and protecting human health and the environment." ELI also identified a number of significant California environmental initiatives that have established our state as a leader, including AB 32, the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard, our State Air Quality Program, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, and CEQA, among others. California’s environmental lawyers are only one part of our state’s efforts to become environmental leader in the country and the world. But we should all be very proud of the role that we play in moving California forward and of the recognition that ELI is giving to our state in this area.

New Officers and Members Appointed to Environmental Law Section Executive Committee

The Environmental Law Section’s Executive Committee is proud to announce its new officers for the 2014-2015 term:

Chair: Gideon Kracov, Los Angeles
Vice-Chair: Howard F. “Chip” Wilkins III, Sacramento
Secretary: Christopher Calfee, Sacramento
Treasurer: Amy E. Gaylord, San Francisco

In addition, the Board of Trustees has appointed the following 5 new members to the Committee for the 2014-2017 term:

K. Eric Adair, Valencia
Nicole H. Gordon, Los Angeles
Michael R. Leslie, Los Angeles
Ryan R. Waterman, San Diego
Jonathan Welner, San Francisco

The Executive Committee is made up of 15-17 Section members who serve staggered 3-year terms. Section members who are interested in joining the Executive Committee are invited to apply. Applications are normally due around February 1st of each year, and final appointment decisions are made by the Board of Trustees during the summer based on recommendations from the current Committee. Application materials for next year’s new member positions will be available on the Section’s website closer to the due date.

In Case You Missed It -- Past Webinars Available Online!

Did you know that the Section’s Webinars are available at low cost to view on line? Have you ever wanted CLE credit on topics that actually interest you? Was there a presentation you wanted to attend but just couldn’t make your schedule cooperate? If so, never fear! Almost 40 (and that number is growing) Environmental Law Section Webinars are available on line, including titles such as "CEQA 101 -- Learn the Basics!", "Beyond 2020: How Will California Meet its 2050 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals?" and many others. See Environmental Law Section Courses in the Online Catalog to find a program of interest to you.

Four Hours of Self-Study CLE in Legal Ethics -- Complimentary for Members of the Environmental Law Section!

The Section thanks you for your membership!As a 2014 benefit of Section membership, we are pleased to offer four hours of MCLE credit in the field of Legal Ethics. That's enough to fulfill the Ethics requirement.

If you were purchasing these courses individually in our Online Catalog, they would cost $140 -- so that's your Section membership more than paid for, and then some!

Just watch these programs, and keep a record of having done so in the event you're audited for MCLE compliance.

You can access these programs and the accompanying written materials any time this year in the Members Only Area.

The programs are:

  • Avoiding the State Bar Disciplinary System
  • Client Trust Accounting Fundamentals
  • Ethical Implications for Lawyers in Cyberspace and Social Media
  • Ethics and Civility: Want an Extension? Forget about It!

Berkeley and UCLA Law Students Take First and Second Place in the Environmental Law Section Student Negotiation Competition Held at UCLA School of Law on March 21, 2014

Eighteen teams of two from law schools across the State competed in this year's Student Negotiation Competition at UCLA School of Law on March 21, 2014. The students competed in two rounds of negotiations involving fictitious environmental law issues Judged by attorney volunteers on several factors related to their negotiation skills, the top four teams after two rounds advanced to a final round. Based on the total score of all three rounds, the Berkeley team was named the first place winner, and the UCLA team took second place. These teams won prizes of $1,000 and $500, respectively. The top ten performing teams were:

  1. UC Berkeley School of Law (Team B), Andrew Coghlan and Francis Choi
  2. UCLA School of Law (Team E), Heather Leslie and Ryan Berghoff
  3. Chapman University, Fowler School of Law (Team K), Ali Razavi and Brandon Howard
  4. Santa Clara University School of Law (Team A), Victoria Loomis and William McAdoo
  5. UC Berkeley School of Law (Team C)
  6. California Northern School of Law (Team D)
  7. California Western School of Law (Team G)
  8. Whittier Law School (Team R)
  9. Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Team M)
  10. Golden Gate University School of Law (Team F)

Update Your State Bar Profile Online

Were you aware of the feature on the State Bar's website that allows you to add a photo and otherwise expand your State Bar profile? Using a secure link within My State Bar Profile, attorneys may add information to their public record to include area(s) of practice, any additional language(s) spoken, their law firm’s website address and a photo.  To get started, log in to My State Bar Profile, and click on the “Expanded Profile” link.

Follow the Sections and CYLA on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn!




Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter. Connect with us on LinkedIn!

Social media, anyone? The Sections and the California Young Lawyers Association (CYLA) now have a page on Facebook, Twitter and a new LinkedIn account, where we can keep you up-to-date on our latest news and events.

We're also looking forward to interacting with a wider community and reaching out to people who are not currently members.

We invite you to "Like" us and follow our "Tweets. "

And by the way, the CYLA definition of "young" is any California attorney under the age of 36 or in their first five years of practice.

Members Only Area

 The Environmental Law Section is pleased to offer a members only area, including online issues of Environmental Law News and Environmental Law Update. Our new members only area also includes a number of other benefits available through My State Bar Profile. For more information, see Members Only Area.

Save money with CEB

CEB Discount Program for Section MembersContinuing Education of the Bar, California (CEB) is extending a special offer to our section. As a member of the Environmental Law Section, you're eligible for a rebate on your section dues that can be applied to the cost of a CEB Gold CLE Passport or a CLE program ticket. Information about the section dues rebate program can be found on the CEB Web site.

Contact Us

Environmental Law Section
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
FAX 415-538-2368