The Sustainable Future Section is the first state bar association section devoted to the relationship between sustainability and law. As summarized in several of the articles you will find in this issue of the newsletter, the Section’s creation in late 2009 resulted from 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.
The mission of the Sustainable Future Section is “to support sustainability by providing institutional expertise to the Oregon State Bar and its members, by educating attorneys and other legal professionals on sustainability and its integration into the law and on best practices, and by promoting dialogue on how law interfaces with the needs and interests of future generations.” In 2010, the Executive Committee’s objectives include quarterly publication of The Long View, the creation of CLE programs and brown bag luncheon meetings on sustainability topics, the establishment of a Web site 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.
In furtherance of the Section’s educational mission, The Long View will focus on exploring the connection between sustainability and law. As a matter of jurisprudence, principles of sustainability are important to lawyers in resolving competing economic, social and environmental priorities that impact future generations.
In The Long View and other Section programs, 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 around 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. We hope The Long View offers a forum for a constructive dialogue about these and related issues.