PreLaw - Back to School 2010 - 44
Making the world greener
Before she went to law school, Desirée Giler Mann had worked as an environmental consultant in cleaning up hazard waste sites. She decided she wanted to bring her scientific background to the field of law to improve connections between lawyers and scientists. “The only law I wanted to practice was environmental law,” she said. “I wasn’t about to change to tax law halfway through.” She chose Pace University Law School in White Plains, N.Y., because of its strong environmental program. After graduation in 2001, she worked first in an environmental practice group at a large law firm, but then took a job as a counsel in the corporate environmental affairs group at IBM. In part, her work includes providing advice regarding properties with a history of soil contamination where cleanup is needed. This can involve former manufacturing sites for IBM or landfills where chemicals or containers involved in manufacturing were buried. At current manufacturing sites, she advises management on how to ensure that production and products comply with new regulations. The company, she said, is also intent on growing its business in environmentally strong ways in future. “Some of my most fulfilling opportunities have been having constructive dialogue with regulators in communities with problems, like groundwater contamination,” she said. “We’ve been able to work with state agencies and regulators on solutions that are better for everyone. It’s great to see a community responding to having you do the right thing.” She’s proud of the job IBM has done in going green over the years. “IBM had documented environmental policies back in the 1970s before there even was an EPA,” she said. “It was the first multinational company to get environmental 44
Where to study
Albany Law School Boston College Law School Chapman University School of Law Chicago-Kent College of Law Columbia Law School Florida State University College of Law Florida Coastal School of Law Golden Gate University School of Law Gonzaga University School of Law Hofstra University School of Law Lewis & Clark Law School Loyola Univ. College of Law-New Orleans Pace Law School Saint Louis University School of Law Seattle University School of Law Thomas M. Cooley Law School Thomas Jefferson School of Law Tulane University Law School University of Arizona College of Law University of Buffalo Law School University of Connecticut School of Law Univ. of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law University of Georgia School of Law University of Kansas School of Law University of Maryland School of Law Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law University of New Mexico School of Law University of Oregon School of Law University of Pennsylvania Law School University of Pittsburgh School of Law University of Tulsa College of Law University of Washington School of Law University of Wisconsin Law School Vermont Law School Washburn University School of Law Willamette University College of Law
certification.” One unusual opportunity in her current job was being named to an elite group of IBM employees in the company’s Corporate Service Corps, modeled after the Peace Corps. The program sends teams of employees around the world to do service projects, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Along with several other employees, she went on a four-week assignment to the Halong Bay area of Vietnam, where the objective was to help local businesses promote tourism in the area. IBM uses the program as management training for employees. Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site where there are floating villages of fishing communities, some of whose residents never visit dry land. The beauty of the site and the unique culture have long attracted visitors. But a major issue has been the need to clean up the bay and villages to make the area more livable for residents and attractive for tourists. For some time, villagers have dumped garbage directly into the water. But Indochina Junk, a company that gives luxury boat tours of the area, has worked to improve garbage collection to end bay pollution, to try to eliminate use of Styrofoam in the structural supports for the floating villages and to improve ventilation and lighting in local schools. Mann worked with the company on plans to expand these programs and to document the progress in the cleanup, for example, by keeping records of pounds of garbage collected. The documentation can help the villagers attract investment money and donations to a charity set up by Indochina Junk. “We weren’t sent there to solve problems, but to help them in planning so they could accomplish things themselves,” Mann said.