For Clients

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Welcome to the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic’s page created especially for clients and potential clients of the Clinic.  We take the “Protecting The Environment” aspect of the Clinic’s motto very seriously.  On this page you will find answers to Frequently Asked Questions from clients and potential clients.  We hope that the answers to the FAQs, as well as exploring the Clinic’s Document Archive and the Clinic Newsletters , will help you better understand what the Clinic does and how the Clinic might be able to help you.

Client/Potential Client FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions About the Clinic from Clients and Potential Clients)

Does the Clinic limit the types of clients it will represent?

No.  The Clinic represents organizations and individuals.  Our primary focus is on the type of matter that the potential Client wants us to handle.  So if you have a matter that satisfies our criteria, the Clinic may be able to represent you.

What types of matters does the Clinic handle when representing clients?

The Clinic seeks to take on representations that can result in positive impacts on the environment and natural resources while providing good educational opportunities for Clinic Student Attorneys.  A “positive impact” can happen when we help stop an activity that is already adversely impacting the environment (for example, helping a client bring an enforcement action against a facility violating its permit), when we help stop or mitigate an activity that will cause environmental harm in the future, and when we develop programs that will help deal with environmental problems.  General categories of Clinic representation are:

  • enforcement activity against persons/entities violating permits or the environmental laws;
  • preparing public comments and participating in public hearings for environmental permits;
  • filing and prosecuting appeals of permitting or regulatory decisions by environmental agencies;
  • participating in hearings and filing appeals of decisions by land use officials;
  • developing and presenting public education programs on environmental issues (such as the Get The Dirt Out program for construction site stormwater discharges);
  • helping clients develop strategies to further client organizational goals; and
  • providing legal analyses of environmental issues.

NOTE:  The Clinic generally will not take on cases seeking money damages for individuals.

What are the criteria the Clinic uses to determine if it will take on a particular representation?

There are three main criteria the Clinic uses in deciding whether or not to take on a representation:

(1)  Will the representation result in some positive environmental benefit if the client wins?

(2)  Will the representation present interesting and challenging opportunities for Clinic Student Attorneys to learn how to be better attorneys as a result of their work on the representation?

(3)  Are adequate Clinic resources available to handle this new representation while meeting our obligations to other already-existing Clinic clients?

The Clinic Director applies these criteria as each project comes in the door.

Does the Clinic charge for its representation?

The Clinic represents clients pro bono-meaning that the Clinic does not charge its clients attorneys fees for the work done in representing the client in a matter.  However, the standard legal representation agreement between the Clinic and the client provides that, if attorneys fees are recoverable by a prevailing party (because it is expressly provided for in the statute under which the client sues), the client will agree to assist the Clinic in filing a motion for an award of such fees and the payment of those fees to the Clinic.  The major federal environmental statutes (Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and any suit against the federal government generally allows for fee recovery.

How are expenses handled during the typical Clinic representation?

While the Clinic does not charge its clients attorneys fees, it requires clients to pay for the expenses incurred in the course of the representation.  This does not include the typical costs of overhead (office supplies, regular postage, faxes, etc.), but rather applies to special costs arising because of the case.  Examples are fees to file a case or appeal (in jurisdictions which require electronic filing of briefs, this includes the fees for such electronic filing), costs for transcripts of proceedings or depositions, and experts.  The standard legal representation agreement provides that the client pays these fees/expenses directly when possible.  Because some expenses (like experts) can be significant, the Clinic works closely with the Client on an agreed course of action before any client-borne expenses are incurred.

What states does the Clinic work in?

Clinic Director Ken Kristl is currently licensed to practice law in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, so the primary focus is in Pennsylvania and Delaware.  However, when appropriate and with the help of locally licensed attorneys, the Clinic has worked on matters in other mid-Atlantic states.

Who are some of the Clinic’s clients?

Amongst the organizations the Clinic has worked with or represented since 2004 are:

  • Delaware Audubon Society
  • Delaware Nature Society
  • Sierra Club
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
  • Center for Food Safety
  • Southern New Castle County Alliance
  • Blue Mountain Preservation Association
  • The Delaware Riverkeeper
  • The Potomac Riverkeeper
  • The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper
  • The Shenendoah Riverkeeper
  • The Patapsco Riverkeeper
  • Waterkeeper Alliance
  • South Wilmington Coalition
  • Guardians of the Brandywine
  • Clean Air Council
  • Citizens to Preserve Dewey

NOTE:  This website contains only general information. It is not an attorney-client communication, is not intended to provide legal advice or assistance or to solicit or create an attorney-client relationship, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic and the reader. You should consult a lawyer about your specific circumstances.

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