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Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.

The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Jenny is a third-year associate in B&D’s DC office. She graduated from Vermont Law School, clerked for the Honorable Peter W. Hall, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and attended COP 22 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Jenny co-chairs B&D’s Pro Bono Committee, represents the firm on the Legal Advisory Committee for the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR), and co-chairs B&D’s professional development program. Earlier in her career, Jenny worked as an environmental consultant and served as a helicopter pilot and officer in the U.S. Army, with a tour of duty in the first Persian Gulf War (1991) in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Megan is a principal in B&D’s Baltimore office. She joined the firm in 2015 after working in the federal government for several years. Megan graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law, and served as a judicial clerk to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. She also holds an MBA. Demonstrating her strong commitment to advancing policies and practices that benefit working parents, Megan co-chairs the firm’s Women’s Initiative and co-chairs the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Affinity Group NAWLMoms.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Jenny: I handle both regulatory and litigation matters. Work in my practice area generally falls under state and federal environmental laws, particularly related to the Clean Air Act (CAA). My regulatory matters include helping clients to interpret, navigate, and comply with environmental regulations and issues including environmental justice. Regarding litigation, my practice includes rulemaking challenges, indemnity claims, and product liability matters, as well as Superfund-related claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Megan: My practice is two-fold. I am an environmental litigator, and a regulatory specialist on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues and corporate responsibility. My litigation practice includes enforcement defense, citizen suit defense, tort claims, and constitutional litigation. My ESG practice includes advising on mandatory and voluntary reporting on areas such as climate change, human rights and materials sourcing, and sustainability, and helping clients design and implement human rights and sustainability policies. 

What types of clients do you represent?

B&D represents clients nationally and locally in our various regional office markets that include FORTUNE® 500 companies with a focus on the oil and gas, energy, chemical, heavy industrial/manufacturing, waste management, information technology, transportation, retail, and health care sectors. We also do significant work for municipal governments and water systems real estate developers, and industry associations. Our pro bono practice works with many leading national and local nonprofit and legal aid organizations, with an emphasis on economic and social justice, immigration, education, human rights, and health care.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Jenny: My cases cover a broad range of environmental issues, and intersect with other areas of the law, such as contract law, administrative law, and corporate law. One recent case involved helping an energy company navigate Biden administration policy changes regarding environmental inspections, enforcement, and regulatory and reporting requirements, particularly in the areas of climate change and environmental justice. My pro bono cases include helping clients in governance issues, setting up not-for-profit organizations, and immigration matters.

Megan: In my litigation practice, I am litigating an issue of just compensation for the taking of private property, defending multiple citizen suits brought under federal environmental statutes, defending against tort claims, and challenging the issuance of a permit with certain onerous and illegal permit conditions. In my ESG practice, I am advising clients on emerging human rights issues and developing their risk assessment and internal processes with respect to such issues, and preparing mandatory disclosure statements related to such processes.

How did you choose this practice area?

Jenny: With my undergraduate degree in Biology, I am drawn to the scientific aspect of environmental law. The issues in environmental law constantly evolve as new technologies develop. As my background is as a pilot and an industrial sustainability consultant, I have a keen interest in environmental issues related to the regulated community. I was drawn to B&D in particular because of the firm’s high level of expertise in and sole focus on environmental issues.

Megan: In college, I studied environmental policy and law, so I went to law school knowing I wanted to be an environmental lawyer. When I started at B&D, I became quickly immersed in environmental litigation and was hooked. I enjoy the opportunity I have while litigating to get deeply involved in the facts and technical aspects of each of my cases—I am constantly learning something new. Early on at B&D, I recognized ESG and human rights as an emerging area of legal risk and wanted to learn more. B&D has been supportive throughout in allowing me to develop this practice area.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Jenny: During the pandemic, I spend a typical day working from my home office, though I also visit our DC office from time to time. A portion of each day is typically spent in meetings, and, although working remotely, I connect with clients and colleagues via video calls. My day also includes writing briefs, comments on proposed rulemakings, and memos. I also conduct legal research and interviews to collect facts related to my cases. Because of the nature of environmental law and the fact that I am a third-year associate, a typical day usually includes learning something new.

Megan: One of the reasons I find this job exciting is that every day is different—there is no “typical” day. Nearly every day I am faced with an unexpected question that I need to address. With respect to common tasks, I spend a lot of time on calls or in meetings, managing case development and directing my litigation teams. Each day I am reviewing others’ work product and preparing emails to clients in response to client questions. Depending on the phase of a case, I may also be drafting written discovery, preparing for depositions, communicating with technical experts, or drafting briefs.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Jenny: For classes, I recommend focusing on Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, Corporations, Contracts, and an Environmental Survey seminar. For skill development, I recommend getting as much experience as possible in written and oral communication. This experience can be gained through joining a law school journal, such as Law Review, participating on a Moot Court team, serving as a judicial law clerk, or becoming a law school student legal writing assistant instructor.

Megan: Legal writing and research skills are crucial to success either as a litigator and regulatory lawyer. I would focus on the underlying legal skills, like writing and research, and the basic classes like civil procedure, evidence, corporations, and administrative law. A demonstrated interest in environmental law is important for B&D, but this is a specialty that you will develop over the course of your career. You need to start by demonstrating a mastery of the basics.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Jenny and Megan: Environmental law is constantly changing and our work is often at the forefront of important emerging issues like climate change, emerging contaminants, and the circular economy. We enjoy the scientific aspect—including working with experts and scientists—and that environmental law must keep up with new technology developments. Because of the nature of environmental law, we learn something new just about every day. In addition, particularly for those in litigation and ADR practices, environmental law presents many opportunities to appreciate the complexities of environmental issues amongst various stakeholders.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Jenny and Megan: Junior lawyers focus their efforts on researching and writing, but are typically involved in all aspects of the case. For example, a junior lawyer may participate in a team call to discuss litigation strategy, and leave with assignments to chase down factual questions, research a new legal theory, or follow-up with an expert on their work product. Junior lawyers often take first drafts of briefs, written discovery or memos to client teams, and are crucial in preparing for depositions or evidentiary hearings. 

Junior lawyers also interact with clients, via presentations, conference calls, and email. They also team up with other attorneys to compose articles analyzing environmental issues and track developments nationwide. In addition, pro bono practice provides opportunities to represent clients in court and in other settings where associates may not otherwise have “first chair” responsibilities. B&D also has a robust mentoring program, so associates provide mentoring support for more junior associates in the firm in addition to benefiting from mentoring themselves.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?  

Jenny and Megan: COVID-19 has changed where and how we work, but not affected our practice that much. In fact, environmental, health, and safety issues have risen to the forefront in light of the pandemic, climate change, social justice movements, supply chain sustainability questions, ESG, and other developments. This has also driven new litigation.  B&D is fortunate to be busier than ever.

Although we now work mostly remotely (B&D’s offices are open to those who are fully vaccinated), we still connect with clients and colleagues via video calls and using other virtual tools when needed. Many of us have adjusted to the uptick in workload by not having to spend time on the commute to work. COVID-19 protocols have actually made much litigation work more convenient. Where we used to fly around the country taking depositions or attending hearings, we now do most of that work virtually via video conferencing. 

How do you balance the different hats (from litigation to transactional work to regulatory matters) that an environmental lawyer must wear?

Jenny and Megan: There is a crossover between environmental litigation and regulatory counseling, where an attorney working on both the litigation and regulatory sides of environmental law does not necessarily wear one “hat” at a time. We approach matters by litigating through the lens of regulatory work, and similarly, provide regulatory counseling through the lens of potential litigation risk.

We often advise on “pre-litigation” phases where there is some sort of incident and we are trying to avoid an enforcement action or litigation altogether. Here, litigation experience is crucial for understanding and evaluating litigation risk. The same is true with work on regulatory advice and emerging issues: we are constantly thinking about the possibility of litigation and preparing the client as best we can to protect their work product from discovery. We enjoy having a mixture of work. For example, after a long day of drafting a motion to dismiss, it can be enjoyable to switch gears and address a very specific question on the UK Modern Slavery Act.