Friday, August 17, 2012

Take heart, environmental attorneys, litigation rebounds

Former NJDEP Deputy Commissioner Michael Catania recalls the halcyon days of the mid 1980s...

...when environmental laws and regulations were being adopted at a fairly frenetic pace, the opponents of virtually every major law, rule and DEP regulatory decision were quick to challenge things, either in administrative hearings before the Office of Administrative Law, or in the Appellate Division of Superior Court. 

Michael Cataniaa

The pace (and complexity) of legal disputation grew to such a level that the New Jersey Supreme Court created a committee to offer recommendations. There was even talk of creating a special court to hear and resolve environmental disputes, much like bankruptcy or family courts.

Eventually (defined as 'too many years later' if you were a business paying the legal fees or 'almost overnight' if you were a litigator or defense attorney) agencies like the DEP began running out of things to regulate.

The bimonthly New Jersey Register, which had ballooned into XXX size range, regained its normal waistline, and corporations stopped fretting over how to hide their ghastly legal expenses in the annual report's appendices.

Consumers who ultimately bore the cost of all the wrangling could welcome the surcease. But not those who had piled up a mountain of student loan debt throughout college and law school only to graduate in time to hear the air whoosh out of the environmental bubble.

Too late to go back to class to become Google or Facebook engineers, the attorneys trudged on.

Now, Catania detects, new hope.

...the litigious among us no longer need to feel nostalgic, for recent years have seen a noticeable resurgence in both the role of the courts and the willingness of players in the environmental policy arena to utilize the judiciary as a principal weapon in their arsenals.

Where does he see the rebound taking place?

See for yourself in The Judiciary Rediscovered  (August 6, NJ Spotlight)

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