March 11, 2022

The Shift from Environmental Law to Small Business Law

Written by
Mallory Meredith

I had the privilege of going to one of the top two environmental law schools in the nation, Lewis & Clark Law School, in Portland, Oregon. I always thought that my ultimate career goal would be to practice environmental law, so I truly focused all my upper-level courses on that. Of course, in law school, you’re always required to take the base classes, like contracts and civil procedure, but I went through those classes with an eye on how I would use those in the environmental field. So, what happened and how did I end up practicing Securities and Small Business law?

Not to get political, but at some point, during my second year in law school, there was an extreme shift in what environmental protections, and as such what environmental agency careers, were in place in our country. This led to a lot of upheaval in my classmates’ and my own ideas about career path. I started to focus on how I could turn my knowledge of navigating the environmental law field into knowledge of another field, and I began to have a lot of interest in nonprofits and small businesses. I thought, and still think, this is a great way to continue trying to help environmental and social causes while still working in a field in which I was passionate.

There are more similarities than most people would think in these fields. Primarily, both fields (environmental law and business law) deal heavily in governmental and pseudo-governmental regulation. While environmental law has the EPA and laws like the Endangered Species Act, all of which require extensive dealings with federal and state agencies, business and securities law has the SEC or various Secretaries of State and laws like the Securities Act of 1933, as well as agencies such as FINRA. Administrative law happens to be the same, regardless of which administration that you may be dealing with.

Additionally, as I stated above, I believe that helping nonprofits and small businesses can greatly impact environmental and social issues. For example, I’ve made it a goal in my practice to help women get their businesses up and running and to help set them up for real success in the future. I have also had the opportunity to work with companies that make environmental health and sustainability a priority. Finally, I have found that one of the best ways to get to know a new city is to get to know the small businesses and the small business resources there. I moved to Asheville, North Carolina recently, and have found that to be extremely helpful in truly learning about the area. More on that to come!