Get to know our Sponsors: Law Office of Karl G. Anuta, PC

Pedal Pursuit is made possible by a wonderful group of generous sponsors. One of our lead sponsors is the Law Office of Karl G. Anuta, PC

We recently caught up with Karl to learn more about his work as an environmental and personal injury lawyer, why he likes working with law students, and why he is a supporter of NEDC’s work.

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Q&A with Karl Anuta

Q: Mt. Hood or Mt. St. Helens?

A: I prefer Mt. Hood; Mt. St. Helens no longer has a top and the alpine area there is very different.

Q: What got you interested in environmental law and what made you choose that career path?

A: I was always interested, growing up, in environmental issues. I grew up in Boulder, Colorado in the late 60’s, early 70’s. My folks were very progressive on environmental issues even though they were republicans. That was back when there was such a thing as a moderate republican. I came out here and went to college. Graduated with a political science degree and a minor in philosophy, and discovered that that was not really marketable unless you wanted to go intern for someone in Washington DC and work as a waiter or a food service person to make a living while doing it, which I wasn’t interested in because I had loans to deal with. So I ended up taking a job as a security guard and worked as an armed security guard for a couple of years. That gave me a lot of time to think about what I really wanted to do and how I was going to get involved in environmental stuff.

I started working with some conservation groups and volunteering and decided that I would quit fighting it and do what all of my friends in college kept telling me I should do, which was go to law school. I ended up going to law school at Lewis & Clark at night and doing environmental stuff with environmental groups on a volunteer basis. I got a job a couple years in as a law clerk with a personal injury firm and discovered that I also really liked helping people who had been hurt fight insurance companies. I started thinking about the fact that there could be some crossover there since I watched a lot of people graduate from law school with a certificate in environmental law and not have any jobs.

Q: So, kind of like today?

A:  Yes, very similar to today. Although back then there weren’t as many graduates out there looking because the environmental program wasn’t as big as it is now. So I ended up graduating with a certificate in environmental law but working in a personal injury firm to pay the bills. I ended up discovering that I really liked that cross over practice so I’ve been doing that ever since with some twists and turns in there. When I graduated and passed the bar I suggested that the firm I was working for hire me as an associate. But half the firm was also doing labor law for labor unions and their primary client was the “timber guys.” And the timber guys had seen my car and talked with me a lot when I was clerking there and they knew I was an “enviro”… They told the labor side of the firm that if they hired me as an associate they would take their union work elsewhere. So we had sort of a conundrum to deal with because they also wanted me to do a lot of work for them on injury cases and I wanted to stay there and do that stuff. I came up with the idea of being a solo practitioner who would rent office space from them in exchange for work. Instead of me paying them rent, I worked off the rent by doing work on their cases on an hourly basis.

Q: How did you get involved with NEDC?

A: I was persuaded by my then girlfriend to go to an NEDC meeting and got introduced to a couple of guys, who I, at the time, thought of as older gentlemen. Now I think of them as young guys because I’m now where they were. We were trying to reinvigorate NEDC because it had gotten kind of dormant and wasn’t doing a lot… NEDC at that point had a student director so that changed every year or so. There was no staff and it was all volunteer folks. We would occasionally write comments on things but didn’t really litigate much… There were a few attorney board members that helped out.

But I got excited by the idea of trying to pursue the Clean Water Act goals, fix the Tualatin, and try to rein in some of the lack of enforcement that was going on with DEQ and EPA. So I started volunteering and that was in 1985. When I graduated in 1986, I decided I would run for a board position. I got on the board and also started pursuing a Clean Water Act case for NEDC, the TMDL litigation. Then I kept staying around. I have been on the board ever since.

Q: So what has kept your interest and kept you on the board?

A: The organization has expanded, focused and developed a strong reputation. We have become much more organized, much more effective at litigating our issues. We have some brilliant young students come through and graduate and become lawyers… So I really think we’re doing an incredible amount of effective work both on Clean Water Act and policy issues with a tiny staff.

And I get to interact with students regularly. It’s really fun to be able to talk with law students who are really energized, not yet cynical, and give them some ideas and directions.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at Pedal Pursuit?

A: It should be fun to see the teams compete and see how people work out clues.

Plus, it’s always fun to have lots of energetic, environmentally oriented folks together for beer.

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Thanks again to Law offices of Karl G. Anuta, PC for being a sponsor of Pedal Pursuit and a supporter of NEDC.

Pedal Pursuit is a bike adventure race on April 8, 2017 in Portland, OR.  Teams compete by solving clues and playing games at checkpoints along the bike course. Everyone celebrates and wins prizes at the finish line after-party at Migration Brewing Company. All proceeds of Pedal Pursuit benefit NEDC. Register for Pedal Pursuit today!