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The Environment: Green Rush

By Megan Kinneyn | Jan. 2, 2007


Law Office Management

Jan. 2, 2007

The Environment: Green Rush

Cashing in on the greenhouse effect. By Traci Hukill

By Traci Hukill
     
      The day after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation requiring California to slash its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop announced its new Climate Change and Sustainability Practice Group. Two dozen lawyers specializing in environmental, tax, and finance law now advise clients on green energy and goods, carbon trading, and climate change?related litigation.
      It was a matter of reading the writing on the wall: The week before, Attorney General Bill Lockyer had filed a suit against four U.S. and two Japanese automakers, alleging environmental damages from emissions. For those who believe California is a bellwether for the rest of the country, these developments and others point to the inevitability of new federal regulations.
      "We're going to see a lot more regulation, and a lot more litigation," says Christopher McNevin, an environmental litigation partner in Pillsbury's Los Angeles office. "Here in California, we get to be at the start of what this is going to develop into."
      But Pillsbury was by no means the first firm in the state to appreciate the potential. Six years ago Stoel Rives, a law firm with four offices in California, launched its Renewable Energy Initiative with soup-to-nuts service for wind, biofuel, and other clean-energy projects. The firm's revenues in that area have since increased more than tenfold, according to group chairman Peter Mostow, and he sees more to come.
      Indeed, with global markets in wind, solar energy, and biofuel valued at more than $40 billion in 2005 and expected to nearly quadruple by 2015, many analysts are practically giddy about the transactional prospects. But Rick Saines, a partner with Baker & McKenzie, which started its Climate Change and Emissions Trading Practice a prescient ten years ago, has a word of caution for newcomers to the world of climate change practice. "One thing about this market is that you cannot be everywhere all the time," he says. "The market is so big and dispersed and eclectic that you have to focus on your core competencies and pursue those opportunities." There is, he adds, "plenty of room for everyone."
     
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Megan Kinneyn

Daily Journal Staff Writer

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