The Sustainable Future Section is the first state bar association section devoted to the relationship between sustainability and law. The Board of Governors created the Section in late 2009 due to the convergence of many factors, including (i) the pioneering efforts of Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future and the Environmental and Natural Resources Section, (ii) the recognition by Oregon law firms of the importance of sustainability in internal operations, marketing and client work, (iii) the creation of robust sustainability programs and curricular activities at Oregon’s three law schools, (iv) the adoption of state and municipal policies to promote sustainability, (v) the evolving commitment of the Oregon State Bar to sustainability, and (vi) the widespread interest in sustainability throughout the state.

In 2010, the Executive Committee’s objectives include quarterly publication of the section newsletter The Long View, the creation of CLE programs and brown bag luncheon meetings on sustainability topics, the establishment of a Website to provide information and resources on sustainability, creation of OSB Sustainability Leadership Awards, implementation of recognition on the OSB Web site for law offices that adopt specified sustainable practices, and collaboration with the Bar on its implementation of sustainable practices.

The Section will explore the appropriate role, if any, of law and the legal profession in protecting the rights and opportunities of future generations. Unlike our profession’s role in some social movements, lawyers generally have not yet played a significant role in the sustainability movement and its growing impact on social goals and behaviors. However, lawyers will very likely have a meaningful role in creating new legal frameworks around sustainability and the rights of future generations and in facing the daunting challenges of climate change. Lawyers will inevitably have a role in addressing the myriad of rights, obligations and interests that may be affected by those changes.  The Section will create fora for the Bench and Bar to engage in constructive dialogues about those issues.

For further background on sustainability in the Oregon State Bar, read the 2009 Report of the Sustainability Task Force and the October 2009 article on sustainability in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin.  The Board of Governors added the goal of sustainability to the Oregon State Bar bylaws as Article 26 in October 2009.