Written by coWORKer Linda Jay

“My firm is one of a few dozen solo practices in California focused primarily on storm water pollution cases brought under the Clean Water Act; most are in the Bay Area or Southern California,” remarks Andrew Packard, a new coWORKer at the Uptown (245 Kentucky Street) offices of WORK Petaluma.

He observes, “WORK Petaluma is perfect for my two-attorney public interest practice.  We specialize in citizen enforcement actions, representing nonprofit groups across the state on a contingent basis.  We need to keep recurring costs down more than most law firms.”

The first wave of environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, were passed in 1972, under the Nixon Administration.  These regulatory frameworks  formed the models for future laws addressing hazardous wastes, endangered species, community right-to-know laws – all of which empower citizens’ groups to enforce these laws when the government agencies fail to act.

Where a citizens’ group  is the prevailing party (wins) in such an environmental lawsuit, the defendant has to pay the citizens’ groups reasonable investigative, expert and attorney’s fee and costs.  Andrew’s firm therefore only takes cases where he is confident his client will win.

All of his clients’ settlements are public documents.  There are no gag orders; the goings-on in the case are “fully transparent, which is healthy, because if you’re doing work in the public interest, you shouldn’t have anything to hide,” says Andrew.

Civil penalties obtained in these cases are directed to a third-party grant-making foundation, the Oakland-based Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, which chooses the nonprofits that would make the best use of the funds.

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Well-traveled Andrew, whose father worked for the State Department in the 1960s, was born in Tokyo and lived there for two years before spending his childhood outside Philadelphia.

After graduating from Duke University in 1986, he headed to Santa Monica to pursue a possible career in architecture.  Eventually he decided to pursue the law instead, and moved to San Francisco.

He graduated from Boston University Law School in 1993, and moved back to San Francisco, where he met his wife, Tricia Zimmerman.

Andrew and Tricia moved to Petaluma with their ten-month-old, Ellie, in 2000.  She recently gained early admission to Middlebury College in Vermont.  Amelia, his 13-year-old daughter, is in the Gifted and Talented Program at McKinley School, and his 6-year-old son, Oliver, is in the 1st grade at McNear School.

“When I’m not practicing the law, I enjoy mountain biking and playing music with some of the many talented musicians who live in Petaluma,” says Andrew.  “I also enjoy our town’s robust, multi-faceted emerging cultural scene.”