What is an Environmental Law Lawyer?
An environmental law lawyer is a legal professional with expertise in environmental law. This area of law includes several important federal laws but also state and local policies that aim to protect the environment, natural resources, and people.
Lawyers practicing environmental law may do several types of jobs and help clients in many ways:
- Advise businesses and organizations regarding compliance with environmental laws
- Represent victims of environmental violations
- Advise cities and local governments on green initiatives
- Research and write environmental policies and legislation
- Advocate for policy changes or new laws
- Assess damages resulting from environmental violations
- Represent plaintiffs in class action lawsuits to seek damages resulting from environmental harm
- Represent clients in land use issues
When Do I Need an Environmental Law Lawyer?
Many people never think they will need an environmental lawyer, but more situations warrant their advice and counsel than you may realize. Whether you are a business owner or simply an individual with environmental concerns, there are several reasons to contact and work with a lawyer:
- You want to build on a new piece of property, and you need to know what environmental regulations apply.
- You have concerns about environmental issues in your workplace, such as indoor air quality or improper disposal of hazardous materials.
- A company or organization in your community is violating environmental laws and regulations.
- Violations of environmental laws have caused you harm, to your property or your health, or in other ways.
- You own a business and need to ensure you comply with environmental laws.
- Your business may have an impact on soil, air, or water quality.
- You need to use a large quantity of natural resources for your business, such as water for irrigation.
- You own a business and want to go above and beyond the laws to be more sustainable or to offer more environmentally-friendly products.
- Your landlord has contaminated your rental or failed to clean up environmental contamination.
What Are the Benefits of Working with an Environmental Law Lawyer?
There are several good reasons to work with an experienced environmental lawyer:
- Clarification and Updates
Environmental laws are numerous and complicated. A lawyer can explain the laws and how they impact you. They will also keep you up-to-date on these ever-changing policies.
- Working with the Government
Whether you are a business owner or just working on your own property, you have to work with government agencies to comply with environmental laws. A lawyer can do this work for you, securing resource rights, permits, and approvals.
- Environmental Responsibility
If you’re interested in doing more than simply complying with laws, a lawyer can help you go above and beyond. They can advise you on sustainability and greater environmental responsibility as a property or business owner.
- Justice and Damages
If you have been harmed by a company or other group violating environmental laws, a lawyer can improve your chances of getting a real solution. Companies that pollute and violate the laws in other ways have big legal teams you’ll have to face. An environmental lawyer gives you the best chance of winning and recovering damages.
Choosing an Environmental Law Lawyer
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a lawyer for an environmental issue is their area of specialty. Environmental law is complex and covers many jurisdictions, issues, and situations. An environmental lawyer usually has expertise in specific areas of environmental law. It isn’t easy to be an expert in all aspects of this very broad type of law, so ask about experience and specialties before hiring someone.
You can search for environmental lawyers in your area to find a firm or individual with the right area of specialty. Also, consider contacting organizations that advocate for environmental protection and offer legal aid. For instance, the National Resources Defense Council is a good resource for information, litigation and legal help.
Ask important questions before hiring any firm or attorney:
- How long have you been working in environmental law?
- Which areas of environmental law do you specialize in?
- Have you handled cases like mine before? What were the outcomes?
- Can you give me references from past clients?
- What do you think of my case, and how would you proceed with it?
- What are my chances of a win?
- What can I expect in damages or an outcome?
- What are your fees and payment plans?
- Will you be handling my case, or will it be someone else?
How to Work with an Environmental Law Lawyer
Once you have selected a firm or attorney to hire, you will potentially work together for years. It’s important to have a good working relationship with your lawyer and to help them help you. The main thing your lawyer needs is for you to be open, forthright, and honest. They need you to provide them with as much information as possible.
Ask your lawyer what they need from you so that you can provide the right information and documentation. Ask questions and stay informed about the progress of your case so you can make the best choices. Make sure your lawyer can contact you easily and listen to their advice as you make decisions.
Working with an environmental law lawyer may be necessary if you face issues related to pollution, air quality, water quality, and other aspects of environmental law. Find the right lawyer with the expertise to match your needs for the best outcome.