The Law Offices of John R Coon, JD, PhD, was formed to provide an alternative to traditional law firms for groups and individuals involved in issues related to environment and natural resources conflicts. The firm is able to call upon Dr. Coon’s 35+ years as a lawyer and his background and education as a scientist to efficiently focus on clarifying and securing the interests of clients, frequently using tools other than litigation to solve problems, including community outreach and organization, governance and regulatory approaches, facilitation, mediation and arbitration.
Whether involved in representing clients harmed or threatened by coastal development, groundwater contamination, or other natural resource or environmental conflict, the firm understands that the interests of its clients are consistently aligned with the interests of the greater public– i.e. “common interests.” This should be contrasted with special interests that benefit only part of a community as the expense of the rest of the community.
By carefully aligning the interest of clients with the common interest – those interests that are widely shared within the community and demanded on behalf of the whole community, the firm has been able to add a policy component to legal/litigation matters. Policy arguments can augment and open the door to a broader diversity of favorable outcomes.
Using multiple approaches, the firm is often able to go beyond the typical litigation/expert/special interest iteration of conflict resolution. As Roger Pielke noted, under the traditional science-based litigation paradigm, science – once thought to serve a neutral and objective role – is increasingly viewed as simply a resource for enhancing the ability of groups in society to bargain, negotiate, and compromise in pursuit of their special interests.
The Coon firm recognizes the precarious position the nation is in with increasing political pressure brought to bear on its agencies to walk away from their duties and responsibilities toward the environment, the poor, and next generations.
The firm also recognize the impacts of distractions brought on by mindless power struggle and the division, fragmentation, and stalemate that remain stubborn legacies of the nation’s governance structure. The structural barriers at the national, state, and local levels may, however, signal opportunities for the mitigation of the barriers to public well-being at the neighborhood, community, municipal and regional levels. Hence the firm is frequently involved in local and regional efforts to resolve natural resource and coastal development issues.
The Coon firm is committed to using whatever tools are available to work with individuals and groups to foster meaningful collaboration between federal, state, local, and First Nation governments, and an active and informed public, to achieve the ultimate goal of a resilient and sustainable environment. Whether it be assisting a small group of oyster farmers in a Maine bay, working with law firms on major complex groundwater contamination class actions, working with attorneys and scientists trying to value the harm done to ecosystem functions and services caused by environmental degradation, or trying to assess the threat to a community posed by proposed development, the Coon firm is tireless in its quest to secure the interest of its clients while promoting human dignity and environmental resilience – truly common interests.