Alum Receives Prestigious OSB Environmental Award
2018 Jim O’Donnell
Alum Susan Jane Brown ’00 is the 2020 recipient of the Oregon State Bar’s (OSB) Environmental and Natural Resources Section’s Annual Award for her leadership, service, and contributions in the areas of environmental and natural resources law.
Brown has spent her career protecting forests and the animals that live in them, while working with the diverse stakeholders involved in forest law, including tribes, timber companies, and the Forest Service. She has also given her knowledge and experience to up and coming lawyers as a staff attorney and clinical professor for the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (now Earthrise) and as the professor for Forest Law and Policy at Lewis & Clark Law School, a class she continues to teach today.
After spending two years in Washington D.C., working for Congressman Peter DeFazio as his Natural Resources Counsell, Brown returned to Oregon in 2008. Upon her return, she accepted her current position with the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). As the Wildlands Program Director and a staff attorney at WELC, she works in federal forest and public lands litigation, federal public lands policy, and forest collaboration.
“Winning cases is always nice,” Brown stated when asked what she enjoys most about her work. “Aside from courtroom victories protecting wild places and critters, I am particularly gratified by my collaborative work with diverse stakeholders in eastern Oregon. That work originated out of highly successful litigation that allowed not only the Forest Service, but also the timber industry and other stakeholders to reassess the status quo and decide that a different path forward was a better bet for ecological integrity and community socioeconomic well-being. This kind of civil, civic dialogue is in very short supply in our country today, and the fact that I’ve been able to build common ground around durable, place-based solutions to natural resource challenges is very satisfying.”
“I have always been inspired by the women in forest protection: as a very male-dominated pursuit, I have frequently been the only woman in the room and regularly face marginalization,” Brown stated about the people who inspire her in her work. “Women who are smart, strong, and strategic who can change the dialogue with grace inspire me to keep working to change this dynamic for the ultimate benefit of the environment. Having a good sense of humor helps too!”
Brown is the fourth Lewis & Clark Law School alum to receive this award since its founding in 2011. “I feel very fortunate to have received my legal education from Lewis & Clark Law School,” Brown states. “I was able to hit the ground running as an effective advocate upon graduation, and have benefited significantly from the mentors and network I developed while at the law school. Lewis and Clark has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and I’m pleased to be able to carry on that tradition!”
Past alumni winners of the ENR Section Annual Award include:
- Stephanie Parent ’92 (2017)
- Scott Horngren ’87 (2016)
- Brett VandenHeuvel ’05 (2015)