So, You Want to Be a Green Building Attorney

So, You Want to Be a Green Building Attorney

One of the great parts about my new job is I get to spend more time learning about what others are doing and figure out how we can work together. I often speak to law students or prospective law students interested in green building careers. The following post includes my standard advice to these students in case they happen upon my blog. 

Green Building Law is Not a Practice and It Never Will Be

Green building is not a fad. But it is important to understand that green building is a subset of the overall construction industry. As green becomes standard practice, the term "green building" will go away and we will once again primarily refer to just "construction." Anyone interested in green building law should think of it as a niche within a niche.

As a young attorney, it is great to have a niche, like construction law. It is even better to have a niche within a niche, like green building law. It is rare to read an article or hear a speech about construction law. Instead, the speaker or the writer focuses on a subtopic within the construction industry. Green building is a fantastic subtopic on which to focus.

Choose Your Practice Wisely

Overworking in the Law LibraryIn my mind, there are three practice groups you can choose from if you are interested in green building law:  construction, real estate or environmental law.

Of the three practices, real estate attorneys generally have developed the most sophisticated green building practices to date. Why? Real estate attorneys help clients at the front end of the project with contracts, permitting and leasing. All of these areas touch on green building and certification. On the other hand, construction attorneys, who generally focus on disputes and litigation, currently have fewer opportunities to work with green building clients. There is simply not much green building litigation out there. 

Environmental attorneys also focus on areas that touch on green building. I don't know how, but that is what I am told. Someone want to explain this to me? 

If you want to do green building law, you should determine how you want to be involved with these projects, and choose your practice accordingly. 

Become a LEED Green Associate

I hear this question all the time -- "Should I become a LEED Green Associate?" The answer is very simple. Yes! Having a certification or credential to demonstrate your expertise in green building is extremely helpful. 

Does that help?

Chris Cheatham, J.D., LEED AP, is managing partner of
Cheatham Consulting LLC. He publishes the blog Green Building Law Update, where this post originally appeared.

Top image CC licensed by Flickr user
yeoqwatzup. Photo illustration components CC licensed by Flickr users umjanedoan and Daquella manera.