Expanding Pro Bono Access for Environmental Justice Communities

February 2022

(Washington, D.C.): “How do we get these legal issues resolved?” is a question often heard from overburdened communities dealing with environmental justice issues. And the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) community, which consists of thousands of lawyers, consultants, and other environmental professionals, has been asking a related question: “How can we meaningfully contribute to overcoming environmental racism in our communities?”

ELI is excited to announce the launch of its new Pro Bono Clearinghouse, which seeks to bridge the interests of communities in need of legal services and the interests of environmental professionals in securing pro bono service opportunities in their field of practice, using law schools and other clinical programs as the connective tissue in establishing these relationships.

The Pro Bono Clearinghouse is one of the many action items identified in the Institute’s December 2020 Statement on Racism and Environmental Justice. “ELI’s vision and mission connect strongly with environmental justice goals, and our staff have been working to foster environmental justice in our governance systems for decades,” said ELI President Jordan Diamond. “The Pro Bono Clearinghouse aims to take another step toward environmental justice by facilitating more support for communities who need it—making it easier for communities to connect with pro bono attorneys they might not otherwise find.”

ELI members are always looking for quality pro bono and subject matter-relevant environmental matters. Meanwhile, communities across the nation—and the world--require the help of attorneys working pro bono for a multitude of environmental matters around them: blight and brownfields, aging infrastructure, water quality and water access, flood risk, extreme weather, ocean-level rise, and so forth. The ELI pro bono program will allow ELI to connect the dots between the environmental clinics, the many communities in need of environmental legal pro bono assistance, and our outstanding, capable, and philanthropic ELI members.

“Environmental clinics are forced to turn down countless cases a year due to lack of resources,” said ELI Visiting Attorney Scott Wilson Badenoch, Jr., who spearheaded the initiative. “With ELI’s pro bono platform, clinics will be able to post the matters they cannot take, or encourage the communities in need of legal support to post directly, and 3,500+ members of ELI will be notified of the opportunity.”

The Clearinghouse is a place to share opportunities and identify expertise to support communities and organizations with the environmental legal issues they face. Matters will be posted with contact information for attorney members to connect directly with the source of the matters. Each post will include the type of matter and jurisdiction for efficient identification.

ELI is also looking for partners to grow the platform. If you are interested in growing this initiative as a firm member, clinic, or organization, please contact the pro bono team directly at perry@eli.org or go to eli.org/probono to receive more information.

If you are interested in posting a matter or, performing environmental pro bono, or you are a community looking for legal support for your EJ matter, please visit eli.org/probono.

Note: ELI does not assess the efficacy or specifics of the legal matters that may be listed and does not engage in the legal work at any point; ELI is simply a clearinghouse for our members to find potential pro bono environmental matters.