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Peter Henner

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                                               CONTINUED CAREER AS POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND RESUMPTION OF LAW PRACTICE

 

On September 1, 2014, I reopened my law office. I will use the practice of law in support of 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; cases that promote important interests, that are intellectually challenging, or as an accommodation to clients that have been loyal to me for many years. 

 

 

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. Although I still believe that the legal system is badly broken, 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.

 

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 when they are individuals or organizations active in the fight for social justice.

 

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 or environmental impact review. 

 

Generally, I will not handle:

 

1)    Cases that are likely to take more than six months to resolve.

 

2)    Will force me to get involved in litigation, particularly litigation over an extended period of time. I hope I have engaged in my last discovery dispute, defended my last deposition, and prepared my last set of motion or pretrial filings.

 

3)    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.

 

For example, as of September 2014, I am working with a sole practitioner who is representing an African-American who was denied services by a large retail chain, and expect to be “of counsel” to an attorney with a growing civil rights practice who is representing a business owner who has been victimized by a local municipality.


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