by Becky Holcomb, staff writer
D.J. Gerken works as the managing environmental attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), an organization of 40 attorneys who uphold environmental regulations that protect the commons of the southeast. Working to protect the environment through the “power of the law” doesn’t only happen in the courtroom however—half of the work is advocacy. Come hear him speak Feb. 6, in Canon Lounge. In the meantime, here’s a preview.
BH: What do you enjoy the most about working for the SELC?
DG: I have worked for a private firm and the major difference between the two is that with SELC, I work for things I am passionate about.
BH: Have you always been passionate about the environment?
DG: (laughs) Actually, unlike my colleagues, I didn’t get into the environment until college. In college I majored in economics and studied environmental economics and that’s when I developed a passion for the environment.
BH: Will you be bringing to students, advice on how to work with people you necessarily don’t want to be working with in order for progress?
DG: I am not sure what I will be talking about exactly, but we like to think of it as a toolbox, we have a certain amount of tools: litigate, advocacy for better laws, education and outreach. Each serves as a tool to influence changes within policy.
BH: What is one project or case you are working on that you are particularly interested in at the moment?
DG: Recently legislature was changed, taking away the protection of a trout stream near Beaufort. I am excited for this case because trout reside in that stream, guaranteeing its protection under the law. It’s plainly illegal.
BH: One final question for you. Did you ever want to be a DJ?
DG: (laughs) No, because DJ D.J. just sounds redundant.