Interview with Tom Lindley

IPMS 1997
Partner, Perkins Coie LLP
Co-chair, National Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group
Oregon Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group
United States of America

(This interview was conducted in 2002.  Mr. Tom Lindley is still with Perkins Coie and is Firmwide Chair, Environment, Energy & Resources and Co-Chair, Cleantech Practice.)

Current Activities

The bulk of Tom’s legal work has involved environmental litigation, permitting and business-related environmental practices in the United States and Canada. His single largest client for the last two years has been a group of businesses that are creating North America’s largest contiguous irrigated farm and dairy farm in the State of Oregon. Tom is also actively involved in environmental remediation efforts geared at converting a large aggregate mineral operation in downtown Portland, Oregon into a natural resource for the city. In addition, he performs pro bono work on the Oregon Sustainability Act of 2001.

Applying Important IPMS Lessons

Tom indicates that the sustainable farm litigation settlement and conservation area, which spans 23,000 acres, would not have come about were it not for his IPMS training. With support from his client, Tom sought a win-win solution that recognized both his interests and those of the environmental organizations involved in the dispute. The first step consisted in analyzing the businesses’ interests and the perceived interests of the environmental groups. A meeting was then arranged with those individuals with whom Tom’s client could negotiate most effectively. During the meeting, future negotiation possibilities and appropriate strategies were discussed. Copies of the book “Getting to Yes” and the Mutual Gains Approach to Negotiation card, materials distributed to IPMS participants, were shared with the parties in attendance. From that point forward, the parties made a concerted effort to understand each other’s core interests, developed a significant level of mutual trust and alternative approaches to reaching agreement, and ultimately reached a settlement that was mutually beneficial.
The combination of consensus-building and negotiation strategies to which Tom was exposed during his time at IPMS has also informed his practice and experience in crafting the Sustainability Act.

Suggestions for Improving IPMS
Tom believes that developing a set of regional programmes similar to the IPMS model would offer an opportunity to expand the group of professionals that receive this important training, as well as to allocate time for shorter programs. He also suggests that the current programme devote even more time to activities that concern consensus-building and negotiation, reducing the level of substantive focus on sustainability, which seems to be receiving sufficient attention in other educational or training programs.

Suggestions for Other SCF Activities
As an important first step in the development of regional programs, Tom recommends that the Sustainability Challenge Foundation find leaders that are currently working at the regional level to advance specific projects related to an IPMS-style program. Such leaders may also be helpful in identifying sources of adequate start-up funding for the regional initiative.


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