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Webinar: Tracking Recent Trends and Future Opportunities in Climate Change Litigation

September 9, 2020 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

This program offers 1.5 participatory MCLE credit. You must register in advance to participate.

This webinar is provided free of charge for law students! If you are a law student and wish to attend this webinar, please email Environmental@calawyers.org for the discount code.

One of the most important and quickly-evolving areas of modern environmental law is climate change litigation.  In the absence of meaningful federal action on the climate change front by Congress and the Executive Branch, and the failure of the energy industry to take responsibility for the adverse environmental consequences of their carbon-based products, private parties and state and local governments are increasingly turning to the courts to vindicate their climate change-based interests.  The landmark Juliana v. U.S. “children’s trust” litigation, and the growing trend of local governments across the nation to rely on common law doctrines to recover damages from “Big Oil” companies, are but two key examples of this trend.  Join some of California’s and the nation’s leading attorneys on the climate change litigation front for a lively discussion of recent developments in U.S. climate change litigation, and predictions as to where this legal initiative is likely to lead


Speakers:
Julia Olson
Matthew Rodriquez
Vic Sher

Moderator:
Richard Frank


Julia Olson is the founder, Executive Director, and Chief Legal Counsel of Our Children’s Trust (OCT), a non-profit public interest law firm that provides strategic, campaign-based legal services to youth from diverse backgrounds to secure their legal rights to a safe climate. Julia graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1997, and founded OCT in 2010 when, as a young mother, she realized that the greatest threat to her children and children everywhere was climate change.  Julia is lead counsel in Juliana v. United States, the constitutional climate change case brought by 21 youth against the U.S. government for violating their Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty, property, and public trust resources.  Julia and OCT are recipients of the Rose-Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism.  She received the Kerry Rydberg Award for Environmental Activism in 2017, is a member of Rachel’s Network Circle of Advisors, and was named as one of Bloomberg’s “Green 30 for 2020”.

Matthew Rodriquez currently serves as Chief Assistant Attorney General of the California Department of Justice’s Public Rights Division, where he oversees all of the State of California’s environmental litigation. Matt has over 30 years of experience in environmental law and leadership. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Matt as Secretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) in 2011.  As the CalEPA Secretary, he managed an agency with over 5,500 employees and advised the Governor and other state officials on environmental policy matters concerning air and water quality, waste disposal, hazardous wastes, and hazardous chemicals.  Matt oversaw the creation and implementation of many important initiatives at CalEPA, including CalEnviroScreen, the nation’s first comprehensive statewide environmental justice screening tool; the state’s first permanent multi-media environmental justice enforcement task force, and California’s cap-and-trade program.  Prior to CalEPA, Matt was with DOJ for over 24 years. Matt started with the department as a deputy in the Land Law Section where he served as an advisor and litigation counsel for the California Coastal Commission.  In 1999, he promoted to the Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Land Law Section and in this position received an award for Excellence in Management Services from former Attorney General Bill Lockyer. He promoted again in 2008 to the Chief Assistant Attorney General for the Public Rights Division.  Under former Attorney General Kamala Harris, Matt served as Acting Chief Deputy Attorney General. Prior to joining the department, Matt was a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Hayward and an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Livermore.  In addition to numerous speaking engagements, including representing California at multiple United Nations’ Climate Conferences, Matt has taught classes on environmental law and resources management at U.C. Berkeley.  He received his juris doctorate from Hasting College of the Law and a bachelor’s degree in History from U.C. Berkeley.

Vic Sher represents public agencies as plaintiffs in high impact environmental lawsuits.  He is currently the lead outside lawyer for twelve public agencies in climate change damages cases brought by cities, counties, and states, as well as an association of commercial fishermen, against the fossil fuel industry; his clients include San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu, the State of Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.  For much of the last two decades, Vic’s practice focused solely on representing public water suppliers and other public agencies in lawsuits against the manufacturers of toxic chemicals polluting drinking water sources; his non-climate docket continues these kinds of cases.  In 2009, Vic served as New York City’s lead trial counsel in City of New York v. ExxonMobil, a federal jury trial over MTBE contamination that resulted in a verdict for the City of $104.7 million. Before entering private practice in 1998 Vic practiced with the public interest law firm Earthjustice from 1986 until 1997, including as its President from 1993 to 1997.  Vic was named one of the top lawyers in America in 2011 by LawDragon, and has been a Northern California Super Lawyer since 2005.  He received a Pew Scholarship in Conservation and the Environment in 1992, and shared the Natural Resources Council of America Award of Achievement for Policy Activities in 1993.  The American Lawyer Magazine named him for its 1997 “Public Sector 45,” a list of “45 young lawyers outside the private sector whose vision and commitment are changing lives.”  He is a 1980 graduate of Stanford Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review.

Richard Frank is Professor of Environmental Practice and Director of the California Environmental Law & Policy Center at the University of California, Davis School of Law.  There he teaches courses in civil procedure, water law, environmental law, natural resources law, ocean and coastal law, comparative environmental law and related topics.  From 2006-2010, Professor Frank served as Executive Director of the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment and as a Lecturer in Residence at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law.  From 1977-2006, he served in various legal capacities with the California Department of Justice, culminating as Chief Deputy Attorney General for Legal Affairs (2003-06).  During most of his career with the Department, Professor Frank focused on constitutional, environmental, land use, water and public land management issues.Since leaving the California Department of Justice in 2006, Professor Frank has served on a number of California state policymaking and advisory bodies.  He served on the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority from 2013-15.  Professor Frank is the former Chair and currently an Executive Committee member of the California Lawyers Association’s Environmental Law Section.  Professor Frank received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his law degree from the University of California at Davis in 1974.  

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