Earthlaw to Unite with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund

Aim Is to Boost Citizen-Enforced Environmental Law Throughout the Nation


Mark Hughes, Earthlaw Denver, 303-871-6996


Buck Parker or Bill Curtiss, Earthjustice, 415-627-6700


Nell Newton, University of Denver College of Law 303-871-6103


Buzz Thompson, Stanford Law School, 650-723-2518

Two of the country’s most prominent public-interest environmental law firms announced today that they have joined forces to create a stronger entity to provide even better service to the environmental community in the United States. The merger is effective immediately. The combined group will go by the name Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.

“I’m delighted that these two fine organizations have decided to merge,” said Mark Hughes, founder and executive director of Earthlaw. “This way we can streamline both organizations and provide better service, both to our clients and to the students in our clinics. Earthjustice is the perfect home for Earthlaw.”

Mr. Hughes worked as a staff attorney for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in Denver for several years before leaving to found Earthlaw. SCLDF changed its name to Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund in June 1997.

Earthlaw, headquartered at the University of Denver College of Law, runs clinics at both DU and Stanford. The clinics train law students in the nuts and bolts of environmental litigation. Clinic students participate in strategy sessions, client meetings, and a variety of administrative and judicial proceedings. They also help prepare briefs, petitions, and other submissions to agencies and courts. Clinic students have successfully brought cases to protect more than 50 species, Haleakala National Park, wetlands, rivers, and streams. In one extraordinary instance, a student at the DU clinic argued a case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nell Newton, Dean, University of Denver College of Law, praised the announcement: “Denver is one of few law schools with great strengths both in natural resources and environmental law. The Earthlaw/Earthjustice merger will greatly benefit our students by increasing the variety of cases and providing them with more feedback from a larger staff. The clinic expands our students’ opportunities for the kind of hands-on experience that is a hallmark of DU Law.”

Buzz Thompson of Stanford Law School commented, “I cannot imagine better partners for building one of the top environmental clinics in the nation than Stanford Law School and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. Both organizations are devoted to excellence — Stanford in legal education and Earthjustice in the defense of our environment.”

Kieran Suckling, Science and Policy Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a frequent client of both organizations, added, “Earthlaw’s cutting edge legal strategies have protected millions of acres and over 100 endangered species. The dedication and creativity of its legal team is legendary. We’re very pleased they will continue fighting the good fight under the auspices of Earthjustice. Groups like Earthlaw and Earthjustice are the backbone of environmental protection in North America.”

“This is more a reunion than a merger,” said Buck Parker, executive director of Earthjustice. “All the Earthlaw attorneys have worked for SCLDF or Earthjustice in one capacity or another in the past. They are all superb lawyers, and Earthlaw has compiled a remarkable record of accomplishments in seven short years. We’re great fans of their work; we are extremely proud to be formally united with Earthlaw.”

“Earthjustice is the oldest and largest public-interest environmental law firm in the world,” Hughes said. “It’s the only organization I’d ever consider merging Earthlaw with. I know the environment will benefit immensely from this development.”


Earthlaw and Earthjustice: Some Basic Facts

Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1971 as Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. It is and always has been an independent organization.

The name was changed in 1997.

It has regional offices in nine cities: San Francisco (headquarters), Denver, Seattle, Honolulu, Tallahassee, New Orleans, Bozeman, Juneau, and Washington, D.C.

Earthlaw was founded in 1993 as a public-interest environmental law firm serving clients primarily in the West.

It has run a law clinic at the University of Denver College of Law since 1995 and at Stanford University Law School since 1999.

The clinics run by Earthlaw have trained approximately 170 students.

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.