Cities are inventive places where new collaborations foster creative solutions to pressing environmental challenges, such as changing climate, rising sea levels, extreme weather events and aging infrastructure. Lawyers lead the way in mobilizing the search for innovative answers. Through the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, they work to configure resilient urban designs and to incorporate environmental insights and concerns for human welfare into land use and resource management decisions. We will explore the important roles that lawyers play in questioning old arrangements and fashioning ecologically sound designs to support resilient, healthy, and equitable communities in the face of environmental threats and uncertainties.

We will consider how legal transactions and regulatory frameworks can ease transitions and protect vulnerable groups, giving particular attention to innovations in zoning, economic development, energy use, urban transportation and water management.

Attendees of this conference are eligible to receive CLE credit in the states of Vermont and Maine.

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Conference Schedule

Friday, March 21, 2014

8:30 AM 

Registration, Networking and Continental Breakfast
240 Dockser Hall 

9:00 AM 

Dean Jeremy Paul and Professor Lee Breckenridge

9:05 AM

Keynote Address
Carol Browner, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Clinton Administration, 1993 to 2001), Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy (Obama Administration 2009 to 2011)


Panel 1
Key Challenges to Lawyering for the Sustainable City

Cities often seem insulated from the impacts of floods, droughts and changing climate since they can rely on the protections of the built environment, urban engineering and global shipments of economic goods. But extreme weather events often dramatically expose environmental vulnerabilities and inequities within communities. The welfare of city residents depends on intelligent coordination of urban development and infrastructure with the dynamics of natural systems. Legal arrangements sometimes stand in the way of wise efforts to engage in far-sighted environmental planning. This panel will address some of the key challenges that lawyers face as they consider the need to integrate concerns about environmental impacts and equitable access to resources into decisions about buildings, landscapes, transportation systems and other infrastructure.

Professor Lee Breckenridge


  • Zachary Corrigan ’02, Senior Staff Attorney, Food and Water Watch
  • Jonathan Klavens 93, Principal, Klavens Law Group
  • Matthias Ruth, Professor, Northeastern University School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Melissa Scanlan, Associate Director of the Environmental Law Program, Director of the Environmental Law Center, Associate Professor of Law, Vermont Law School 
to 12:15PM 

Breakout Sessions


Breakout 1
Human Rights, Environmental Justice and Growth of Cities
42 Dockser Hall

Breakout leaders include:

  • Veronica Eady, Vice President and Director, Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice Program, Conservation Law Foundation
  • Staci Rubin ’10, Senior Attorney, Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE)

Breakout 2 
Urban Transportation and City Infrastructure: Ensuring Wise Design, Mobility and Equitable Operations and Access for all Populations
44 Dockser Hall

Breakout leaders include: 

  • The Honorable Wib Gulley ’81,  Of Counsel, Triangle Transit Authority, Mayor, Durham, North Carolina (1985 - 1989); State Senator, North Carolina (1993 - 2004)
  • Stephanie Pollock, Associate Director, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University

Breakout 3

Floods, Droughts and Sea Level Rise: Implications for Zoning and Project Design
46 Dockser Hall 

Breakout Leaders 
George Hall, Jr.’84 Partner, Anderson & Kreiger LLP 
Benjamin Rajotte, Visiting Professor of Law and Director of the Disaster Relief Clinic, Touro Law School, New York

12:30 PM

Lunch and Networking in Dockser Commons

1:30 PM 
2:30 PM  

Panel 2
Innovative Solutions: Lawyering for Resilient and Healthy Communities
Lawyers play key roles in crafting innovations in laws and legal arrangements to foster sustainable, resilient solutions for cities. This panel will consider how existing legal tools as well as changes in laws and legal transactions can create new approaches for sustaining life in cities while ensuring equitable allocations of resources and protection of healthy ecosystems. The panel will discuss, in particular, the ways in which lawyers can incorporate wise consideration of energy use, climate change, water management, and the infrastructure design in the projects and legal arrangements that they oversee.

Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand '94

Speakers include: 

  • Jane Amidon, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Research Professor and Director, Urban Landscape Program College of Arts, Media and Design, Northeastern University 
  • Elyse Cherry ’83, Chief Executive Officer, Boston Community Capital
  • Catherine Farrell ’73, Former General Counsel, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
  • Ralph Martin ’78, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Northeastern University
2:40 PM

Breakout Sessions


Breakout 1
Problem Solving: Adddressing Infrastructure Needs in a Time of Limited Public Sector Revenue
42 Dockser Hall

Breakout leaders:

  • Ron Ruth ’80, Managing Partner, Sherin and Lodgen
  • Terrance Regan, AICP; Senior Project Manager, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Breakout 2: 
Revamping and Rezoning the City for Resilient Water Management: Envisioning “Green Infrastructure” and Integrating Urban Systems with Ecosystems
44 Dockser Hall 

Breakout Leaders:

  • Ann Lowery ’90, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Resource Protection, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • Marguerite Reynolds ’05, Associate, Miyares and Harrington, LLP

Breakout 3: Powering the City: New Legal Approaches to Obtaining, Using and Conserving Energy
46  Dockser Hall

Breakout leaders include: 

  • Michael Ernst ’80, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Energy Programs, TetraTech, Inc. 
  • Courtney Feeley Karp ’02, Senior Counsel, Klavens Law Group

Breakout 4: Career Paths for Students Lawyering in Sustainability: Pursuing Innovative Endeavors with Legal Tools, Both Old and New
40 Dockser Hall

Breakout Leaders Include: 

  • Jonathan Klavens ’93, Principal, Klavens Law Group
  • Emily Rochon ’13, Energy Fellow, Boston Community Capital
  • Jennifer Rushlow ’08, Staff Attorney and Director, Farm & Food Initiative, Conservation Law Foundation
3:50 PM 
5:30 PM 

Networking Reception
Lounge near 240 Dockser 


We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of the Conference Steering Group: 

  • Professor Lee Breckenridge, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Elyse Cherry '83, Chief Executive Officer, Boston Community Capital
  • Wib Gulley '81, General Counsel, Triangle Transit Authority, Former Mayor of Durham NC
  • Mielle Marquis, Director for External Relations, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Ron Ruth '80, Managing Partner, Sherin and Lodgen
  • Emily Rochon '13, Boston Community Capital
  • Professor Steve Subrin, Northeastern University School of Law