Bronx Lab Students Learn About the Environment During Visit to WilmerHale’s New York Office

Bronx Lab Students Learn About the Environment During Visit to WilmerHale’s New York Office

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On May 29, 13 high school students from the Bronx Lab School’s Mountain Club—a student group interested in environmentalism—visited WilmerHale’s New York office to learn about its LEED certification as well as various types of environmental law practiced by the firm’s attorneys.

The office previously hosted a career day for Bronx Lab students, and one of the school’s teachers had expressed interest in having students speak with attorneys who work on environmental matters. Given the office’s many green elements that led to its LEED Gold certification, the day was a perfect opportunity for students to examine environmentalism from several different perspectives.

First, the students were given a tour of the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center, which serves as a marketing floor for building owner Silverstein Properties. It houses scaled models of all the World Trade Center buildings, a giant floor map of the entire property, and example materials used in the buildings’ construction. WilmerHale Managing Director of Administration and Facilities Development Eric Friedman spoke to the students about the considerations that went into building out the firm’s floors in terms of obtaining LEED Gold certification.

“I truly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with the students not only about the value of sustainability as it relates to the culture of WilmerHale, but also about my engineering background and how I get to apply those fundamentals to working at a law firm,” says Friedman. “I think they really enjoyed the afternoon and asked a lot of good questions.”

“The students loved looking at the models,” adds Associate Caitlin Mandel, who organized the event along with Practice Manager Amy Szydlo and Public Service Manager Anne Bowie. “They had lots of intelligent questions about the cost-benefit analysis of the expenses that go into green construction.”

Back upstairs in the firm’s offices, several attorneys spoke with the students about the intersection between law and the environment. Tax Partner Richard Andersen talked about using tax law as a way to incentivize green behavior and gave the students hypothetical situations in which to think about the impact of policies like carbon taxes. Then Corporate Associate Daragh Murphy discussed environmental law considerations in transactional work, specifically in terms of Superfund sites and who should be held responsible for them. Senior Associate Michael Gottesman, a member of the Appellate & Supreme Court Litigation and Business Trial Groups, spoke about environmental litigation.

In addition, Senior Associate Nikki Feit reminded the students about the pro bono services available to them through WilmerHale. Finally, Mandel and Summer Associate Cynthia Cho spent time chatting with the students and answering general questions about attending law school and becoming a lawyer. Mandel hopes to hold the program again next year.

“All of the conversations they had tied into the theme of connectivity,” she says. “You can’t create a policy that changes one thing without other things being impacted as well. When you’re thinking about big issues like protecting the environment, there are a lot of considerations, and it was interesting for the students to be exposed to those considerations.”