Citizens, non-profit organizations, civic and community groups, and governments rely on environmental law to ensure their rights to health and safety and protect our natural resources. To succeed in the courtroom, environmental lawyers must stay abreast of new legislation and how it’s being implemented. LexisNexis, our sponsors for this post and a publisher of several resources that keep environmental lawyers up-to-date, recommends the following:
· Research is key. This notion is so obvious it can easily be overlooked. To argue cases with authority, it may be critical, for example, to know that a certain chemical in the groundwater, although thought to be harmless, actually has a chronic long-term negative health effect on local animal populations or on the water coming out of someone’s tap. Such knowledge will help the environmental lawyer argue the case for stricter dumping regulations. Much case law already exists, of course, but it may not include recent scientific reports and analyses. That’s where research plays a crucial role.
Understand the science. Environmental issues – especially those dealing with health and safety impacts related to chemical exposures – are complex because they often rely on scientific analysis that may be incomplete or open to interpretation. Many environmental lawyers work in a team with scientists whose expert testimony can help them build an unassailable case for strong enforcement of the laws they are defending — or to argue that existing environmental laws don’t go far enough in protecting people and the planet.
· Be ready to adapt. Thomas Edison once said “We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything,” and he was right. Our earth and the environment that surrounds us are so complex, we don’t comprehend even a fraction of how they work. We think we have something figured out, then new scientific information is discovered and our prior theories are blown out of the water.
“It is absolutely essential that environmental lawyers never stop learning, “ the LexisNexis experts say. “There will always be new technology and better environmental tests developed, teaching us more and more about the environment and how people interact with it.”
Many Resources Are Available
These days, it is easier than ever for environmental lawyers to conduct research and to stay informed about their field of law. How?
- Take advantage of environmental ebooks and case studies from LexisNexis and other trusted sources to stay abreast of frequently-updated case studies and research results.
- Join list-serves set up specifically to address the needs environmental lawyers have to learn about the passage of new environmental laws and regulations.
- Affiliate with academic institutions that have access to scientists and researchers who can provide the knowledge, insights and data needed to create compelling arguments and win cases.
- Join associations, such as the Environmental Law Institute in the U.S. and the National Environmental Law Association in Australia, that are dedicated to helping environmental lawyers succeed.
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