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The Planet

The Planet
November 1998 Volume 5, Number 9

Law Program To Expand

The Sierra Club Law Program is set to offer new and expanded legal services to Sierra Club grassroots activists.

"Because the Law Program's staff resources will always be limited, we'll target our additional staff lawyers to help support the Club's highest priority conservation campaigns," said Alex Levinson, the directing staff lawyer of the program. "They'll litigate the most important cases and coordinate pro bono lawyers to litigate related suits."

Activists working on the highest priority campaigns will have first call on the Club's legal expertise, he said. They'll be able to include within their overall campaign planning a litigation component with significant in-house Club legal resources devoted to their cause.

For example, if fighting sprawl is selected as a Club priority, the Law Program can take the lead in challenging sprawl projects that impinge on "wild places close to home" - such as the coastal dunes where the Alabama beach mouse resides (see story below). The advantage of this approach is that Club staff lawyers will use legal tools - for example, the Endangered Species Act to challenge inadequate habitat conservation plans - that will be effective in various local sprawl battles all across the country.

"By focusing our limited legal resources on powerful tools that work at a federal level, we can avoid inefficiencies like using widely varying local zoning laws to combat sprawl," said Levinson. "This fits naturally with the nationwide reach of the Club's grassroots. We're excited that with this new approach the Law Program will play a more decisive role in the Club's highest priority conservation campaigns."
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