Legal aid for the environment

Through a unique model of “legal aid for the environment,” Crag provides free and low-cost legal services to people who are working on the ground to protect our environment, climate and communities.

We believe that conservation and community groups deserve access to high-quality lawyers regardless of their ability to pay, and understand that effective legal aid extends far beyond lawsuits. As community-based lawyers, we actively listen to our clients and partners, help them understand the complex legal landscape, and then help them develop a plan to achieve their goals. We respond to issues with real world impacts in a way that builds long-term support for conservation advocacy. By focusing on serving our clients as opposed to pursuing our own policy agenda, we empower organizations to accomplish their missions. Our clients are engaged with the public and respond to what happens on the ground. By serving our clients, we serve the public. And by staying client-focused, we ensure that our work benefits local communities and resonates with the broader population. Many of Crag’s clients are battling well-funded corporations with large teams of attorneys, and Crag’s advocacy elevates those who would not otherwise have a voice in decisions directly affecting their frontline communities. We take on the cases that others often overlook, including cases that have no possibility of recovering attorneys’ fees.

By nature, Crag’s work is long-term. Our strategy is to push back against the erosion of environmental protections on public lands, elevate the voices of Tribes and other traditionally underrepresented groups, and advance climate policy that will preserve the prosperity and safety of generations to come. We aim to make our environmental laws work for everyone, support civic engagement, and hold decision-makers accountable for land management and environmental protections.

In addition to and in support of our program work, we are dedicated to training the next generation of environmental advocates. Through our Emerging Leaders Program, we provide mentorship and professional development for law students, undergraduate and high school students, and a variety of volunteers so that they can learn new skills that will allow them to be effective conservation and environmental justice advocates. We focus on developing the leadership of individuals from diverse backgrounds who demonstrate a passion for justice and a desire to pursue a career in public interest environmental work.


Commitments to Equity and Justice Work

We are all interconnected with the land, water and air. But not all people have equal voice in decision-making that affects our environment and our communities. We are working within and against systems of oppression rooted in settler colonialism, patriarchy, corporate dominance, and explicit and implicit systemic racism and discrimination, leading to unequal access to social, political and economic power. Crag balances the scales of justice by supporting communities to achieve their goals for a healthy environment. To realize our mission, we must help to elevate the voices of historically excluded communities by sharing tools to influence decisions affecting their lives and making environmental laws work for everyone. Implementing equity, diversity and inclusion principles will allow us to achieve the greatest impact, create space for new leaders, improve our own thinking and approach to our work, confront injustice and cultivate a culture of compassion at Crag. We are responsible for using power and position as leaders in our community, working in allyship, and remaining focused on the needs of our clients.


Our Commitments:

  1. We will prioritize time and resources to practice equity and inclusion within our organization and with our clients, our supporters, and our community.
  2. We will recruit, train, and mentor diverse staff, board members, interns and volunteers.
  3. On a personal level and interpersonal level, we will practice humility and step back, listen, and help to elevate and center historically excluded voices. We recognize this work is ongoing, we will make mistakes and learn from them.
  4. We will challenge dominant narratives in environmentalism and conservation work about community values, the relationships of people to the land, how ecosystems function, and the role of law as a mechanism of justice.
  5. We will remain client-focused with the goal of elevating our clients’ voices and priorities, in service of the public interest and in alignment with our mission.
  6. We will implement community-centric fundraising by sharing power and resources, ending transactional practices, and making events and communications accessible.

Crag staff worked collectively to draft this statement over the course of multiple collaborative, guided brainstorming sessions. We challenged ourselves to be brave in naming injustice, privilege, and racism in our statement and solidified our group understanding of the EDI themes we identified in an effort to more meaningfully integrate these into our work. We consider this an ongoing process. If you would like additional information about how we developed our statement and how we keep our work centered in these values, you can read more here.

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