CHARLESTON -- The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) has officially incorporated as a professional association with the goal of bringing together lawyers distinguished by their experience and high standards in the practice of environmental law.

"Some of the best known and most experienced environmental lawyers from across the nation are coming together to form this new college, the first of its kind in environmental law," said Rick Glick, newly elected president of ACOEL and an environmental attorney in Portland, Ore. "Forming the College will allow us to build a strong fellowship, share best practices and continue to strengthen this thriving practice area.

The Charter Members of ACOEL have also elected a Board of Regents, which includes David Flannery of Jackson Kelly's Charleston office.

"Our objective is to enhance environmental law practice and to maintain the high standards of practitioners in this field," Flannery said. "Since each member is recognized as a leader in the field and is an accomplished practitioner, these qualities will help the College and the profession achieve its objectives."

In addition to holding annual meetings, ACOEL will sponsor educational programs to reinforce the quality of environmental practice. The first such program will be held Jan. 31 through Feb. 2 in Miami.

"Our first major presentation will focus on renewable resources, global warming/climate change initiatives, and other energy projects," said Jeff Thaler, ACOEL's program committee chair and an environmental attorney in Portland, Maine.

Membership in ACOEL is by election only, and eligibility is limited to those who are recognized as leaders in their field and have predominantly practiced environmental law for 15 years or longer.

More information, including the latest national and local environmental legal news, is posted on the ACOEL's blog at www.acoel.com.

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