Think of Earth Day and what do you see? We bet it’s a crunchy vision of bare-footed environmental believers, with not a suit in sight. But even if we don’t have the picture totally right, we know there’s no courtroom scene in your vision. In fact, if you were to conjure up the opposite of earth day bliss it would most likely look like, well, a bunch of high-powered lawyers doing some fancy deals. We’re not Earth Day friendly, right?
While our plaintiffs’ attorneys may look different than the media’s stereotype of Earth Day celebrants (at least on their office days), the reality is that environmental zealots and plaintiffs lawyers have more in common than you might think.
First, there’s the passion. As anyone who has been at either a trial or an Earth Day event knows, the engine that makes both these happenings work is passion: that raw “little engine that could” belief that what we are doing can, and will, make a difference.
Next, there’s the dedication. Most people don’t know that plaintiffs’ attorneys work on a pure risk/reward system so that, in effect, the hours our attorneys put into preparing and going to trial are more like volunteering than working. We hope for a good outcome (and work like heck to make it happen), but a predictable ROI? That’s not in our vocabulary.
Finally, there’s the sheer mass of the obstacles we face. Toxic substances that will harm third world citizens for decades to come? Check. Oil spills that seep into the food chain so deeply that their impact will be felt in ways we cannot imagine? Check. We don’t let the size of the problem deter us.
The truth is that to successfully achieve the Earth Day mission (positive environmental change through education) we need all hands on deck: the non-profits, the volunteers, the scientists, the politicians and the plaintiffs’ attorneys. And we need all those hands on deck everyday.