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Hot Practice Area: Global Warming

Posted Jan 22, 2008 12:05 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Law firms that began focusing on global warming as a specialization in recent years are seeing their practices heat up. As the climate-change issue has become politically recognized, it is the subject of increased regulation and government funding. Hence, corporations need counsel to lobby Congress for favorable rules on carbon dioxide emissions, clean energy project funding, and the like.

In particular, as Congress considers a program of so-called carbon credits to help curtail the global warming problem, companies throughout the U.S. are likely to need lawyers to help them develop systems to monitor, report and verify the credits, reports Bloomberg. Based on a European model, the program, under a bill introduced by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., establishes a system of credits that encourages companies to limit their emissions of carbon monoxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, according to the news agency and a press release issued by Warner in October.

Companies could buy and sell the carbon credits to each other, creating a financial incentive for conservation and requiring those that can't or won't to pay a price for their emissions.

One of the early pioneers was Baker & McKenzie, which created a climate change practice group 10 years ago. There are now about 60 lawyers in the group, which had estimated revenue of $15 to $20 million in 2007, Richard Saines, who heads the U.S. climate change contingent, tells the news agency. The international megafirm, which is headquartered in Chicago and has about 3,335 lawyers on its attorney roster, had total revenue of about $1.52 billion in 2006, according to American Lawyer.

"We saw this as one of the key international law issues that would affect U.S.-based multinationals,'' Saines says. "And that is now the case.''

ABA Journal: "Green Fees"

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