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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Meet Environmental Law Attorney Lauren Nishimura

BASF member Lauren Nishimura practices environmental law at Paul Hastings. For Lauren, it was a combination of personal values, academic interest, and luck that led her to this field. When not working, Lauren loves to travel, take photographs, and write about environmental issues on her blog: Fellow BASF member Sara Ayazi sat down with Lauren to find out more about her.


Sara Ayazi (SA): How did you become interested in environmental law?Lauren Nishimura

Lauren Nishimura (LN): Like many people entering law school, I wanted to come away with an education that would allow me to do something meaningful aligned with my values and that could be a benefit to others at the same time. Environmental issues were always important to me, and environmental stewardship is something I try to incorporate into my daily life (which is why I started my blog). I naturally gravitated towards environmental law classes, and soon found a fantastic professor and mentor - Richard Lazarus. I am also an avid traveler, and my wanderlust led me to see and appreciate the natural beauty of our world and witness the impact of resource depletion. These experiences, along with academic focus and well-entrenched values, inspired me to try to find a firm that had a good environmental practice. I ended up picking Bingham McCutchen for its strong environmental practice group. However, I recently joined the environmental group at Paul Hastings. This transition has allowed me to focus exclusively on environmental law.

SA: What issues do you work on in your practice?

LN: I am working primarily on renewable energy issues, with a focus on solar energy. Our clients are large scale solar developers. We provide a wide range of advice and services—from regulatory compliance, to preparation and advice on state and federal environmental documentation, and environmental litigation. We also work with state and federal agencies and environmental groups to ensure that solar facilities are developed with an eye towards minimizing environmental impacts.

SA: What do you find challenging about practicing environmental law?

LN: Because the renewable energy industry is evolving so rapidly, the legal and practical issues it creates are often new and legally untested. This makes finding a solution exciting, difficult, and requires an ability to think creatively and on a larger scale while still considering existing precedent and regulations.

SA: What do you know now that you wished you had known while in law school?

LN: That your career, like your life, is often a result of hard work and a bit of serendipity. Opportunities often arise unexpectedly. You can’t always plan when and where you will meet people, but you can control how you react. For example, I met my current boss on an airplane. I had no idea when I boarded the plane, or when we started talking, that it would lead to my current position.


Sara Ayazi recently relocated to San Francisco after working as an attorney for the University of Connecticut. She received her law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and her bachelors of arts in sociology from Vassar College.

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