Environmental lawyers work in public and private practice. They gravitate to large law firms, and they work as in-house counsel, but they may also represent individuals in small firm or solo practice. The EPA also needs lawyers to serve as administrative judges that hear allegations of rule violations.
Corporations rely on environmental lawyers to help them understand and comply with regulations. They turn to their own in-house lawyers for guidance. Some corporations prefer to contract with independent counsel. Even an attorney in private practice may have a single client for their entire career as an environmental compliance attorney.
There may be a significant amount of litigation involved with a practice in environmental law. Lawyers must represent their clients in administrative hearings and formal court. They must negotiate resolutions with EPA attorneys. To succeed in environmental law, a lawyer must be an effective negotiator. Speaking skills and trial advocacy skills are also a must for representing clients at hearings, depositions and in front of political bodies.
Environmental lawyers work throughout the United States and the world. Working for an international company may mean international travel or a permanent international assignment. Corporations must comply with environmental issues throughout the United States, so they rely on lawyers throughout the country. In addition, individuals who rely on lawyers to bring cases to protect them from environmental pollution and nuisance need lawyers to live and work throughout the country. On a local level, lawyers may represent individuals when they face criminal and civil allegations of hunting and fishing violations.
Why Become an Environmental Lawyer?
Environmental law is important for both individuals and corporations. For lawyers who represent corporations, they provide a critical service that enables the corporation to conduct business in a lawful way. Lawyers who work for the EPA protect the public interest. In addition, lawyers help individuals protect their personal peace and safety when they’re personally aggrieved by rule breakers. Lawyers in the field have the opportunity to influence local, state, national and international policies. For lawyers who have personal goals to influence environmental policies, the area of law can provide that opportunity.
When the law and the environment intersect
Environmental lawyers grapple with whether and how lawmakers should regulate the environment. When those decisions are made, lawyers help their clients implement regulations in the best ways possible. Lawyers for government agencies and for individuals provide a critical public service in creating, enforcing and challenging environmental laws and regulations throughout the United States.