Legal Advising on Corporate Structure in the New Era of Environmental Liability

16 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2016

See all articles by Peter S. Menell

Peter S. Menell

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: 1990


The new era of environmental liability significantly alters corporate lawyers’ role and responsibilities in advising on corporate structure. Whereas corporate lawyers two decades ago could not have anticipated the sweeping, retroactive changes brought about by CERCLA, state legislation, and developments in the common law, today's lawyers are capable of anticipating further retroactive expansions of environmental liability through both common law developments and statutory changes. The expansion of environmental liability requires corporate lawyers to take an active role in devising strategies to prevent and reduce environmental risks. A corporate lawyer can no longer rely principally upon traditional risk-insulating doctrines to find a safe harbor from environmental risks; such harbors no longer exist. Rather, the corporate lawyer must be sensitive to a much broader range of factors, including the potential for structural and technological means for reducing risks, the direction as well as the state of applicable legal doctrines, and the effects of different risk management approaches on the client’s customer base, workers’ demands, sources of capital, and community relations. Therefore, both professional and social responsibilities require corporate lawyers to look beyond traditional risk-shielding strategies in order to more effectively serve the interests of their clients and communities.

Keywords: Environmental Law, CERCLA, Corporate law, Professional Responsibility, Parent Corporation Liability

Suggested Citation

Menell, Peter S., Legal Advising on Corporate Structure in the New Era of Environmental Liability (1990). Columbia Business Law Review, Vol. 1990, No. 3, 1990. Available at SSRN:

Peter S. Menell (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics