Mission

WLS is dedicated to training and motivating lawyers, students, and concerned citizens to integrate sustainability into their lives and practices, encouraging them to collaborate and innovate to create solutions to complex sustainability problems, and working cohesively to promote a sustainable environment, community, and economy. WLS will achieve these goals through four areas of action:
  1. Education – Being a trusted resource for credible, authoritative information and education about sustainability law and policy issues, especially those that have local impacts;
  2. Role Modeling – Encouraging and training lawyers to “walk the talk” by adopting sustainable practices in their lives and business operations;
  3. Counseling – Encouraging and training lawyers to incorporate sustainability issues in counseling their business and governmental clients; and
  4. Advocacy – Analyzing existing laws and regulations and recommending changes where appropriate to encourage wide-scale movement toward sustainable practices.

 

History

Washington Lawyers for Sustainability was founded in 2009 after a series of discussions held over a two-year period among several dozen Washington lawyers about the need for an organization of attorneys committed to addressing complex sustainability issues through law. David Frankel, a Seattle business and commercial attorney since 1983, served as interim coordinator of the organizational discussions and now serves as President of WLS. He acknowledges that the founders of WLS were inspired by the pioneering work of an elder sibling organization, Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future, and by its founder, Dick Roy, in raising awareness about sustainability issues there.

 

Educational Programs

Washington Lawyers for Sustainability will sponsor and develop Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs on law and sustainability issues, and will also present speaker events for the general public on broader sustainability topics. WLS presented its first CLE in December 2009, a half-day program hosted by Starbucks that focused on case studies of several critical sustainability issues that the company wrestles with as a major consumer retailer, such as ethical sourcing of coffee and cocoa, green building and energy efficiency, reducing and greening waste streams, and avoiding "greenwashing" in talking about its sustainability efforts. In May 2010, WLS presented another half-day program that explored the definition of sustainability and the roles that lawyers can play in moving our society and economy in more sustainable directions. WLS intends to present at least two half-day CLE programs every year, plus monthly lunchtime presentations. Click here for information about upcoming events.

Board of Directors and Officers

Washington Lawyers for Sustainability is run entirely by volunteers. Its Board of Directors is made up of lawyers, with one seat reserved for a current law student. The officers, who include the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, are not required to be lawyers.

Meet the Board of Directors

Advisory Board

To help focus our efforts and effectively address a range of extremely complex sustainability problems, WLS has enlisted an Advisory Board made up of sustainability leaders from a variety of professions and from different sectors of the economy, government, and the non-profit community. We believe that truly effective solutions to the complex of sustainability problems are likeliest to emerge through the open exchange of ideas between motivated people who approach issues from a variety of perspectives and with the fullest possible range of expertise. By creating an Advisory Board that comprises all of these perspectives, WLS can identify the critical leverage points for action, and to bring the appropriate expertise and persuasive force to bear in order to effect change.

 

Committees

The vital work of Washington Lawyers for Sustainability is carried out primarily by committees made up of members of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and of the general WLS membership. The WLS committee list includes the following:
  • Law Office Sustainability Best Practices Committee
  • Continuing Legal Education and Public Events Committee
  • Energy Policy Committee
  • Sustainable Restructuring of Washington Business Entities
  • Stormwater Runoff Scorecard Committee
  • Pro Bono Action Committee
  • Inter-organizational Legal Coordinating Committee
  • Website Committee
  • Membership Development and Marketing Committee
  • Funding Committee
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