CBA Record November-December 2021
capture and storage projects likely will start to take shape. Electrification of vehicles of all kinds—even aircraft—likely will become increasingly common. What keeps you up at night when it comes to environmental, health and safety considerations? Cisek: I would not say there are things that keep me up, per se. I would say that I am always trying to think of new or creative ways to proactively address and support health, safety and environmental initiatives, and risk mitigation, including training and effectively partnering with outside counsel. I want to ensure Legal is contributing to the business and helping the organization succeed. You do not want to wait for things to happen or always be on the defense—it will put a strain on your time and resources. Leen: The health and safety of each of our employees keeps me up at night—are we pursuing the right safety initiatives, with the right training, at the right intervals, with the right resources, with the required support? How do we ensure that our employees and their families continue to trust that we will make their safety the highest of all priorities? Working in the specialty chemicals field (and really any related manufacturing field), these are the questions that keep me up at night. What advice would you give a new lawyer starting their career in envi- ronmental law? Landgraf: Never stop learning. One of the best pieces of advice I received early in my career was to spend time reading and re- reading the environmental statutes and the regulations. Environmental law is a com- plicated, technical area and it is important to know precisely what the law says. That is the only way to give sound legal advice. Another great piece of advice I received early in my career was to get involved in Chicago’s environmental community. Meet other environmental lawyers and environmental consultants, get involved in the bar associations’ environmental com- mittees and in the environmental nonprofit groups like the Air and Waste Manage- ment Association – Lake Michigan States Section. Having professional friends who also practice in this area and being actively
involved in Chicago’s environmental com- munity will make your career much richer and more enjoyable. Yearout: Don’t be shy about asking ques- tions, both of your legal peers and of your scientific/technical non-legal colleagues. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness or a lack of ability. That is particularly true in environmental law, a field where the legal and scientific background facts are often complicated. Leen: Almost all law (with maybe some exceptions) incorporates elements of envi- ronmental law at some level. Generally speaking, you cannot build a new plant (or decommission an old one), or make a large investment, or purchase or divest a company, or prosecute/defend a suit for a company without fully understanding the impacts on the broader environ- ment. So, my advice would be to seek out opportunities where the business and the environment intersect (it is not always obvious where that is); start with those projects and work your way towards more involved environmental work. I would caution that oftentimes the path towards practicing environmental law is circuitous, with periods of your early career that may need to be focused on other areas of the law (e.g., corporate governance, trial liti- gation, FCPA, government service, etc.). Those focus areas will only enhance your appreciation for and dedication to the environmental matters when and as they arise in your career. I would also advise a new lawyer to get involved in organizations that share your values (e.g., environmental law journals, societies, networking events), and then go and speak to the practitioners of environmental law and get to know their career paths. Cisek: Learn how your organization pri-
oritizes risks to understand what to focus on. Better understand your clients, whether internal or external, so you can be proactive in addressing their needs. You want them to want to come to you for help and not see you as a burden or impediment. For example, think about setting up quarterly (or more frequent, if appropriate) meetings with your clients to know what is on their radar and how you can help to support them. Be practical. Clients want to make sure that the legal services they are receiving are consistent and appropriate for the issue being addressed. If you try to do too much at one point, nothing may be completed, or completed to your standards. Think about how your organizational culture addresses issues and the level of resources, as well as internal competence, currently available— do they want belt and suspenders, basic compliance, etc. This helps you know what to focus on and where to put in the effort. Environmental protection, natural resources conservation and climate change mitigation require public participation, consensus building and collaborative efforts on the part of many stakeholders. Such efforts simply cannot succeed without the support and cooperation of U.S. busi- nesses, their in-house legal counsel, and other corporate leadership.
E. Lynn Grayson is President of The Chi- cago Bar Association and a partner in the women-owned bou- tique environmental law firm of Nijman Franzetti LLP.
20 November/December 2021
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