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Law Office of

Peter Henner

(518) 423-7799

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Peter Henner
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On September 1, 2014, I reopened my law office. I will practice law to do the work that has been the main focus of my life: the struggle against corporate and governmental entities that are determined to seek greater profits at the expense of humanity and to support individuals and groups that are fighting to protect and establish basic civil rights and to preserve the environment.


I will also handle some general legal matters; but only cases that promote interests I consider important, that are intellectually challenging, or as an accommodation to clients that have been loyal to me for many years. 

Although I am willing to work as hard as necessary on projects and cases that I accept, I do not aspire to resume a more than full-time practice that precludes me from pursuing other interests.  Since resuming my practice, some people have approached me with ideas that would generate a lot of business. However, I am not looking to grow a law practice.  Other people have asked me to handle time-consuming, not particularly interesting and sometimes difficult cases on a pro bono basis. I have also declined such work. Although I intend to focus on public interest cases, I do not plan to be a "pro bono lawyer."  Any case that I handle must meet the criteria below.



I never retired – just took a sabbatical


Many well-meaning people have asked me in the last year: “How are you enjoining retirement?" It was never my intention to retire. Instead, it was my intention to take a much needed sabbatical to reevaluate what I was doing after maintaining a 50+ hour a week law practice for more than 29 years. As I stated last year, I expected “to return to challenging and worthwhile professional activities focused on continuing the struggle for social justice.”   


From August 1984 until June 1, 2012, I maintained a full-time solo law practice, dedicated to the representation of individuals and organizations fighting for social justice, particularly when my clients were wronged by the actions of large corporations or governmental entities.  My practice was a direct extension of my political and social activism in the late 1960s and I never forgot that I became a lawyer to continue the fight for a world where the right to democratic principles and human rights, including worker rights, civil liberties and a clean and healthy environment would not be defeated by powerful and greedy forces. The focus and principal accomplishments of my practice can be found on the Overview page of this website.


In September 2013, the Altamont Enterprise published my article “Goodbye to all that, why I stopped practicing law to do more useful things.” In the 2000 word article, I explained why the legal system had become sclerotic, dysfunctional and corrupt, and why I wanted nothing more to do with it. I still believe that the legal system is badly broken, and it is frequently impossible, or at least cost-prohibitive, in both time and money, to use the legal system to obtain justice. Nevertheless, my legal skills are an important part of my identity, and my legal skills are the best contribution I can make to the fight for social justice. Therefore, I am prepared to work as a lawyer when such work can help.


Cases I will and will not handle


As I said on this page a year ago: “if I resume practicing, I will affirmatively select the cases and causes that I handle, based on whether the case is interesting to me, and whether I believe that the case promotes social justice. I will not handle cases that require me to spend a lot of time doing boring and useless things. . . . I expect to be looking for new and exciting projects in the future, including projects that can use my legal skills.” Although I expect to be paid for legal work, I will not handle cases or do legal work that does not meet the criteria below simply because someone is willing to pay me. 


I intend to limit my practice to matters and cases that:


1)    Can make a significant difference; preferably by confronting an institution or organization that is blatantly abusing its power.


2)    Will assist an individual or organization that is plainly in the right, especially individuals or organizations active in the fight for social justice. As of January 2015, I am representing two labor unions in their struggles against government policies and undemocratic tactics by their enemies.


3)    Are intellectually challenging. For example, I am willing to handle appeals of complex legal questions involving difficult statutory or constitutional matters and cases requiring mastery of complex scientific, public policy or technical information; I am not willing to handle cases that require extensive review of mundane documents and/or extensive meetings.


4)    Can be handled expeditiously without a long-term commitment, especially where the matter involves a particular area of law where I have extensive experience, such as civil rights issues, public sector labor relations,, environmental impact review or energy issues. 

5)  Will help a long-term client or friend, and do not violate the conditions below.


Generally, I will not handle:


1)    Will force me to handle the drudgery of litigation, particularly litigation that will last for years. I hope I have engaged in my last discovery dispute, defended my last deposition, and prepared my last set of motion or pretrial filings. Although I am willing to brief and argue substantive motions and appeals, and perhaps even try a case, I hope I have engaged in my last discovery dispute, defended my last deposition, and prepared my last set of pretrial filings or procedural motion papers. I will only handle such cases if I can work with a firm or other lawyers who are willing to do most of the necessary work. a lot of teh


2)    Representation of individuals or organizations whose causes I do not entirely embrace. In the course of my career, like most lawyers, I have represented a number of people who were not entirely in the right, and/or organizations whose views I did not entirely share. Today, I will refuse to represent such individuals or organizations. Nor will I tolerate aggravating or excessively demanding clients.


Affiliation with other lawyers/law firms


I welcome opportunities to work with other law firms on a consultant or of counsel basis, particularly in civil rights, employment discrimination and environmental cases. Although I do not want to be the lead counsel in a case that may take years to resolve, I am willing to serve as “of counsel” to firms that are willing to undertake the long-term commitment to prosecute cases. I believe that I can offer relevant expertise and experience and that my reputation will assist in the resolution of the case.



© 2012 Law office of Peter Henner