A law firm helps its clients make the transition to sustainable development

As businesses, organizations and owners focus more on sustainability, a New Jersey law firm aims to make the transition smoother for everyone. Launched by Offit Kurman in East Hanover, the new Environmental and Sustainable Practices Group strives to help clients manage complex environmental issues, as well as deliver innovative solutions that build their overall resilience.

The team is led by Matthew Karmel, a 35-year-old environmental lawyer who has won awards in recent years for his efforts to spur policy change in the industry, his work to educate others about the issues emerging and the results it has achieved for clients.

The Ocean County native has been recognized for his environmental and circular economy influence and leadership, including earning a spot on the 2022 NJBIZ Law Power 50 list and a mention on the annual “40 Under 40” list. from Waste360.

Karmel

From Fortune 100 companies to individual owners, Karmel has experience in a full range of environmental issues, including advisory and litigation, brownfield redevelopment and site remediation, as well as sustainability, renewable energy and waste management.

With a passion for sustainability and the environment, Karmel said he was excited to take on this new role.

“Today, it is not enough for companies to simply comply with applicable environmental laws. Businesses are simply more efficient and more successful when they embed sustainability and climate awareness in their DNA. I’m excited to help our customers advance innovative circular solutions simply and efficiently. »

Karmel, along with attorneys Margaret Carmeli and John Tomlin, advises clients ranging from public companies to owners on a wide range of environmental and sustainability issues, from commercial transactions and arrangements, to litigation and alternative dispute resolution, or regulatory compliance and operations. .

The firm’s specialties include brownfield redevelopment, renewable energy, sustainability, waste management and cannabis.

Attorney John Tomlin, Offit Kurman

tomlin

Attorney Margaret Carmeli, Offit Kurman

carmeli

The team also works to support sustainability and climate change initiatives, such as evolving government climate change requirements as well as voluntary sustainability initiatives. Additionally, attorneys advise clients on issues related to sustainability, environmental justice, greenhouse gas emission limits, environmental advertising and more.

Karmel, who began practicing law in 2014 at Riker Danzig in Morristown, noted the growing interest in the concept of sustainability within the legal community in recent years.

“It reached a tipping point where it became a service that needed to be provided to our customers,” Karmel said, noting that such practices are quite common in large national companies.

“Sustainability is now kind of beyond green business and not in that vein anymore. It’s so much broader, bigger and more encompassing,” he said. environmental and sustainability practices.

“At other firms, you won’t have the opportunity to chart this course and lead much later in your career, so it’s exciting to be able to do that now as I continue to develop my own personal practice,” said Karmel, who added that the company “has clearly seen that sustainability is the future.”

Businesses are now under increased pressure to build the resilience of their organizations while addressing social issues important to customers, investors and other stakeholders. And while some companies view sustainability as “another compliance issue,” Karmel hopes to help them view it more as an investment. “We are entering a new era of business growth through sustainable initiatives. A decade ago people saw this as a fringe concept, but research has shown that companies that add sustainable practices eventually outperform others,” he said.

Another misconception is that “it’s a narrow thing that’s only reserved for a few companies – the most polluting ones,” Karmel said.

“It’s not. Environmental and sustainability issues cut across the board. Yes, bigger companies have bigger budgets to spend on this stuff. But it’s still important for small and medium-sized businesses to integrate these considerations into what they do and to have the right kind of guidance,” he said.

Based in Baltimore, Offit Kurman has grown over the past two decades along the East Coast and now has 18 offices in eight states and the District of Columbia and more than 250 attorneys. It is considered one of the fastest growing full-service law firms in the United States and represents dynamic clients including mid-sized private businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate and related businesses, and families. wealthy.

Offit Kurman Chairman Timothy Lynch said Karmel “brings a wealth of experience in managing business for organizations and individuals facing the challenges of the circular economy” and the firm is delighted to have him on board. the head of the new practice.

“Our clients will benefit immediately from our ability to provide advice and representation in this growing field,” he said.

Here, there are several burning issues in environmental law, such as renewable energy, waste and recycling – areas for which Governor Phil Murphy has set “incredibly ambitious goals,” said Karmal.

Murphy has set a goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050 in New Jersey. Two years ago, he signed an environmental justice law to protect vulnerable communities from pollution and also unveiled an energy master plan to wean the state off fossil fuels.

The governor also returned New Jersey to the regional greenhouse gas initiative, increased the number of wind farms and signed legislation to boost the use of electric vehicles and solar power.

While New Jersey is “moving in the right direction” when it comes to transitioning to more green energy, Karmel said there’s a lot of legal work and challenges associated with expanding the use of renewable resources such as solar and wind energy.

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated New Jersey’s coastal areas and caused $30 billion in damage, Karmel believes the historic storm marked a turning point in the Garden State.

Although Sandy has helped spur “significant environmental activity” in terms of projects aimed at building resilience to future severe weather, such as upgrading energy infrastructure, revising stormwater management regulations and changing rules on flood risk, there is still much to be done, said Karmel.

“I think that was the tipping point for businesses and owners to reconsider what they’re doing in terms of sustainability, environmental impacts and improving resilience.”