Friday, May 18, 2007
Sheppard Mullin Launches Global Climate Change Practice
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles-based Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton Partner Randolph C. Visser said yesterday that the firm’s newly-launched global climate change practice was “an exciting chance” to help clients meet the challenges of global warming.
Visser, an environmental lawyer with 30 years’ experience who joined the firm in February, heads the new practice’s four-person leadership team that includes San Francisco partner M. Elizabeth McDaniel and local partners Polly Towill and Stephen J. O’Neil.
Visser and McDaniel, partners in the firm’s construction, environmental, real estate and land use litigation practice, provide the team with substantive law expertise. Towill, a business trial practice group partner and O’Neil, an environmental law and complex environmental litigation partner, are set to lead the litigation side of the global climate change practice.
The new group includes 50 other attorneys firm-wide—over half of them based in Los Angeles—who represent clients in a vast range of industries and practice areas impacted by climate change regulation. The team of attorneys is charged with navigating clients through regulatory and corporate responses to climate change, providing counsel and advocacy on matters such as the California Environmental Quality Act, National Environmental Policy Act, government relations, industrial, energy and natural resources development, land use and renewable energy projects.
Visser, who said he “worked on the idea” sometime before joining Sheppard Mullin, said the firm has “the perfect mix of practice, clients and talents” to make its global climate change group a large success.
Sheppard Mullen had not been the first firm in the region to launch such a group because it wanted to “take some time” to ensure the best coordination possible, he said.
“It really is new territory for most lawyers,” he remarked. “We’re trying to solve a challenge which nobody really knows how to solve yet. We took some time to make sure the practice leaders really understand how climate change affects our clients in the [various] industries.”
“Climate change is an area that just cuts across all areas, all industries, all practices,” he said, adding that the firm plans to partner with expert policy and business strategy and technical environmental consulting professionals.
“This is not just a legal issue,” Visser said.
O’Neil said he did not foresee an immediate onslaught of lawsuits over global warming. While predicting that the initial waves of litigation will likely be concentrated in the CEQA arena, he noted:
“The regulations pertaining to global warming are still really in their infancy, so it’s hard at this point even to project exactly what clients’ needs are going to be. But I think it’s good to have a group like this that can follow the process as the law develops so we can support our clients right on the cutting edge of this legal market.”
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company