2010 marks a significant milestone for Gowlings as it enter its 20th year practicing environmental law. Thanks to the instrumental role the firm has played in this important and highly specialized area, Gowlings has become a leader during the past two decades in dealing with day-to -day environmental issues as well as providing strategic advice on specific pieces of legislation, codes and guidelines.
In 1990, when David Estrin and Harry Dahme joined Mark Madras to form the Environmental Law Group at Gowlings, the practice of environmental law largely involved public interest matters, individual client complaints and waste management undertakings. As larger firms turned their focus to environmental law, environmental matters in corporate and real estate transactions became increasingly important and environmental policies and the auditing of environmental practices and compliance became part of the practice of environmental law. While Gowlings did continue to represent individual and public interest groups, those retainers became more focused on major policy issues, and less on individual complaints.
Today, the demand for a high degree of knowledge in extremely specialized areas has become a key requirement for practicing environmental law. The need for advice on emerging topics such as climate change, corporate social responsibility and water and waste offers a glimpse of what the future holds, and given Gowlings depth of understanding and national reach, also a look ahead at what the next decade may bring:
- The implementation of measures to address climate change
- A merger of environmental law with energy and natural resources law
- Sustainability becoming a key consideration of government policy and business planning
- New pollution control technology
- Smart Grid concepts for large infrastructure
- Full implementation of the precautionary principle
- Wide-spread use of alternative energy sources
- Water allocation, distribution, treatment
David Estrin, Harry Dahme and Mark Madras lead Gowlings Environmental Law Group in Toronto.