I serve on the board of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services, an environmental and land use residency program based in Pittsburgh and Akron. I am delighted to share this recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, profiling Fair Shake and celebrating the accomplishments of our amazing Executive Director and Managing Attorney Emily Collins. Emily has managed to combine provision of modest means legal services to traditionally underserved clients with a residency/incubator program training young attorneys. It’s a program unique among law firms and incubators, and I’m so proud of Emily and the staff and all they’ve accomplished in such a short time.
From the article:
“While some of the cases the firm has taken up might have the precedent-setting potential that large environmental organizations seek out, that is not Fair Shake’s motivation. Instead, its goal is to help people navigate the routine but often bewildering experience of objecting to a permit, commenting on a proposed regulation, contesting a violation notice or filing a lawsuit over environmental harm.
The firm focuses on educating communities about their rights and how to participate in environmental decisions.
Half of Fair Shake’s cases so far have related to oil and gas development, but the firm has also handled matters to do with coal mining, wastewater, air quality, property transactions, hazardous waste, civil rights and the environmental rights described in Pennsylvania’s constitution.
In less than a year, the firm received about 140 requests for services — a nearly overwhelming number for a startup nonprofit firm that is navigating a course toward greater self-sufficiency while still trying to establish that its model works.
“We’re still kind of in the proof-of-concept phase,” Ms. Collins said. “It’s an interesting place to be, where you’re figuring out the conundrum of being sustainable while teaching others to do the same.””