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Sustainability Law

The shift toward sustainability is creating opportunities and challenges for everyone doing business today. With the right legal guidance, entrepreneurs may position themselves to take advantage of rising demand for cleaner products, sustainable designs and renewable forms of energy. Other businesses are simply clear-eyed about the need for strategic legal assistance in anticipating, tracking and shaping new environmental laws and regulations that impact their competitiveness. Whether you work at the forefront of renewable energy development or simply seek guidance through the complex and changing regulatory landscape, LeClairRyan is a valuable addition to your team.

LeClairRyan's Sustainability Law team brings together veteran lawyers with the range and depth of experience necessary to provide competent advice on all aspects of the green economy. Our experience dates to the dawn of the modern environmental movement in the late 1970s. Our team includes expertise in venture capital, renewable energy, clean technology, finance, sustainable construction and development, environmental litigation, insurance, and lobbying and regulation at the federal, state and local levels. Our team monitors news, legislation and litigation so our clients stay a step ahead of the competition. Working together, members of our Sustainability Law team deliver timely, strategic advice that enables our clients—whether large or small, established institutions or emerging start-ups—to move forward with confidence.

Environmental Law
From local water supplies to international climate agreements, the environment is a top concern for consumers, businesses and governments. Clients turn to LeClairRyan's Sustainability Law team for help on litigation and regulatory matters related to air and water pollution, waste disposal, shipment of hazardous materials, toxic tort suits and more. Our team also advises on compliance with climate change legislation and voluntary standards. Water, an increasingly critical resource, is one of our Sustainability Law team's areas of expertise. LeClairRyan attorneys have decades of experience tackling water availability issues, defending water utilities, handling claims of contaminated drinking water, winning rate approval for public and private utilities and working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other regulators on wetlands regulation and Clean Water Act compliance. Our team has litigated multiple cases involving river restoration and natural resource damage.

  • Environmental Counsel
    The Sustainability Law team guides clients through environmental due diligence in matters such as the acquisition, finance and sale of businesses and real estate. Our goal is to identify and resolve issues related to environmental permitting, reporting, compliance and enforcement at the state, local, federal and international levels. We also act as compliance counsel for ongoing business operations. Clients turn to LeClairRyan for clear, timely and practical guidance on all aspects of environmental risk management.

  • Environmental Litigation
    The Sustainability Law team routinely litigates claims relating to air pollution, water pollution, waste disposal, shipment of hazardous materials and toxic torts. These cases typically involve federal and state administrative agency proceedings as well as litigation in federal and state courts. The LeClairRyan team is at home in industries in which such litigation is commonplace, including manufacturing and construction. LeClairRyan also maintains relationships with a veritable "Who's Who" of experts on these matters. Their insights, shared through consulting and testimony, give the firm a unique and holistic approach to environmental issues.

Renewable Energy
LeClairRyan's Sustainability Law team specializes in helping entrepreneurial clients seize emerging opportunities in renewable energy production, sale and distribution. Our decades of experience in the traditional energy industry, coupled with an understanding of current technology, financial incentives and regulation give us an edge over new arrivals to the field of renewable energy. An example would be our work with Synchrony in regards to their proprietary magnetic bearing technology developed for advanced aircraft propulsion systems.

  • Biofuels & Alternative Energy
    LeClairRyan's Sustainability Law team is actively assisting a number of alternative energy clients gain the benefit of incentives such as grants, tax credits and infrastructure spending arising from recent federal legislation. We are also familiar with state and locally-administered incentives. The Sustainability Law team can leverage its experience in public and private finance, development, construction, technology, intellectual property, regulation, contracting and tax advising to bring your alternative energy project to fruition. We have specific experience with solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, solar, fuel cell technology and related transmission issues.

  • Oil, Gas & Mineral Rights 
    LeClairRyan represents a variety of oil, gas and mineral rights industry interests across a broad spectrum of judicial, regulatory and legislative forums, as well as in significant transactions. The Sustainability Law team's broad industry perspective positions it to provide practical, business-driven solutions for clients. 

Green Development and Construction 
Construction is an area of strength for LeClairRyan’s Sustainability Law team. Our attorneys are versed in the modes of green development, such as LEED®, Green Globes®, REACH, EarthCraft and Energy Star. The team tracks emerging trends and legal issues related to solar, wind and alternative energy sources, as well as water conservation and reuse. Clients rely on LeClairRyan attorneys for insight on sustainability and green building programs, regulatory filings, low impact development and other alternatives for local code compliance, sustainable community development, zoning conditions and proffers, conservation easements and related tax incentives and subsidies, and historic preservation, among other issues. 

Green Technology and Investment
The team offers strategic advice to private investors and financial institutions seeking opportunities in green technology and clean technology. Attorneys help clients with due diligence to confirm the details of promising technologies and structure deals to leverage a maximum return on investment. Among other things, the Sustainability Law Team has experience with power plant construction; buying, installing and operating alternative-energy systems; selling renewable energy back to the grid, and more.

New insurance products are emerging designed to protect against environmental hazards and shield buyers and developers from liability associated with former brownfields and other potentially risky sites. LeClairRyan's Sustainability Law Team is on top of this important trend and can help clients identify deal-specific risks and locate an insurance product that will be most effective (and cost effective) in managing the particular risks. LeClairRyan attorneys focus on reducing clients' exposure by making sure such questions are fully addressed in advance. Our team is able to provide opinions to insurance carriers on pollution issues arising under general liability and special environmental policies, and to defend clients in cases arising from the refusal to defend or indemnify insureds in environmental matters. Conversely, the team aggressively prosecutes declaratory relief actions to address environmental coverage issues arising under the duty to defend or indemnify.

Looking Forward
For LeClairRyan, staying ahead of the curve on sustainability represents more than a growth area for clients. Today, the firm is in the preliminary planning stages of an effort to green its own operations and facilities. That will be no small task: LeClairRyan now maintains a total of 20 offices in eight states and the District of Columbia. By applying to this effort the same results-driven philosophy that clients have come to expect from LeClairRyan, the firm aims to "walk the talk" on sustainability.

Meanwhile, LeClairRyan is looking to the future by thinking strategically about how the shift toward sustainability might affect legal dynamics in fast-growing and influential fields such as nanotechnology.