Green energy creating work for Nevada lawyers |

Green energy creating work for Nevada lawyers

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The push for renewable energy is creating jobs in Nevada.

Electricians, construction workers and lawyers are among those being kept busy by power companies seeking to round out their energy portfolios with renewable sources of energy.

Nevada has vast tracts of public land for solar and wind projects and business-friendly regulations.

Melissa Orien of the Rocky Mountain law firm Holland & Hart specializes in writing contracts for LEED-certified, energy-efficient buildings.

“Trends in the legal community obviously follow trends in the business community, and right now green building is a big trend,” she said. “It’s an area of law where there seems to be a lot of emerging legal questions that there aren’t established answers for.”

The future holds a growing need for environmental lawyers, said Jeffrey Thaler, president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

“We’re going to see more regulation and more environmental lawsuits. All of that means there will be a greater need for the skills of an environmental lawyer.”

The American College of Environmental Lawyers has about 100 members. They include Linda Bullen of Nevada’s largest law firm, Lionel Sawyer & Collins.

“Clean energy, green technologies and environmentalism in general have been ‘in’ the last few years,” Bullen said. “That has created interest in the field among new lawyers.”

Several corporate law firms in Nevada have expanded their environmental law practices or reassigned lawyers from less-active practices.

“It used to be that you went to a party and you weren’t supposed to talk about work. We were considered boring,” said Kathleen Drakulich, a longtime environmental attorney with law firm McDonald Carano Wilson of Las Vegas and Reno. “Today everyone wants to talk about what we do.”

It’s become so popular that U.S. News & World Report has begun ranking schools’ environmental law programs. UNLV’s Boyd School of Law didn’t make the list, but it has an “environmental quality law” elective track.