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Environmental Law (Green Law)

Environmental Law


Summer time at Kaomei wetland
Photo by Vincent Tin / Moment / Getty Images

Environmental Law - Practice Description

Environmental law is a broad practice area that encompasses a range of issues surrounding the environment including water and air quality, hazardous waste, species protection, agriculture, wetlands, biodiversity, waste management and right-to-know laws. It also encompasses the handling, transportation, regulation and cleanup of hazardous substances.

A growing area of environmental law is “green law”. Environmental lawyers specializing in green law help clients conserve the environment for future generations by advising them on green initiatives, sustainability strategies and alternative energy sources.

Why Environmental Law is Growing

As “going green” becomes a global priority, lawyers who can advise clients on green standards and sustainability issues are in demand. Experts predict that potential greenhouse gas, climate change, global warming and other environmental legislation will increase the legal work for environmental lawyers in coming years.

Job Duties

Environmental law has evolved over the years and encompasses a number of subspecialties including energy and natural resources, green law, climate change, sustainability management, land use and zoning, real estate and regulatory compliance.

Lawyers with a renewable energy practice represent national and international energy generators, utilities and renewable energy developers in all aspects of power project licensing, permitting, financing, construction and operations for regulated and unregulated enterprises. Reneable energy lawyers also advise clients on renewable energy policy developments and issues relating to solar energy, wind energy, biofuels, ocean and hydrokinetic energy, biomass, waste-to-energy, geothermal and other clean technologies.

Climate change lawyers issues assist clients with challenges and opportunities emerging from regulatory and corporate responses to climate change. Attorneys litigate climate change-related matters, assist clients with carbon reduction projects and trading around the world, and support the development of corporate institutional climate policies and strategies. Climate change lawyers also track legislative and regulatory developments at state, federal and international levels and advise clients on climate policy issues.

Lawyers specializing in green building and sustainability practices assist clients in gaining LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and state “green” certification for their projects and obtaining energy efficient and sustainable incentives from local governments. They help clients evaluate the requirements and benefits of sustainable building practices and counsel owners, construction consultants, and others involved in the development, construction, and financing of sustainable buildings.

Real estate lawyers who understand green leases are in demand and help building owners construct and operate energy-efficient and green buildings.

Related Practice Areas

  • Energy Law
  • Land use and Zoning Law
  • Sustainability Management
  • Climate Change Law
  • Real Estate
  • Natural Resources
  • Regulatory Compliance

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