Trustees for Alaska has a new Legal Director, but she’s not new to Trustees. Senior Staff Attorney Valerie Brown has been named Legal Director. She has a long history of involvement with Trustees, dating back over 25 years. She represented a local conservation group and was a client of Trustees before she left Alaska for law school in 1992. As a second year law student, Valerie came back to Trustees as a summer intern in 1994, where she worked on the lawsuit to stop the Copper River Highway.
After law school Valerie clerked for the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. Former Legal Director and long-time Trustees supporter Peter Van Tuyn hired Valerie as a Trustees Staff Attorney in 1998. When asked for a comment, Peter said “I have known Valerie as a client, intern, peer and friend. She has a passion for Alaska and its wild places and wild life, and is a top notch attorney with decades of experience. She is a perfect fit to lead Trustees’ legal team.”
Valerie took a hiatus from full time work and started a solo private practice in 2004, where she continued to be involved as co-counsel with Trustees Senior Staff Attorney Mike Frank on the litigation that established that predators are included in the Alaska’s constitutional definition of sustained yield, thus ensuring some legal protection for the State’s bears and wolves. Valerie also worked as a contract attorney for Trustees and other organizations during that time. In 2011, Valerie returned to full-time work at Trustees as a Senior Staff Attorney.
Here is what Valerie had to say about becoming legal director, “Trustees is the only public interest environmental law firm based in Alaska and I’m thrilled to be continuing on here in a new role,” said Brown. “My goal now is expanding my work beyond individual cases to help keep Trustees a force in our community defending Alaska’s lands, waters, wildlife, and people.”
Valerie has expertise in many areas, including wildlife management, public lands, coal mining, fisheries, and legislative process. In her recent work, Valerie has been successful in requiring the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to adjudicate instream flow reservations at the Chuitna coal strip mine site and in helping the Bering Sea Elders Group to negotiate an agreement with the Alaska Seafood Cooperative to establish a working group to work to reduce halibut bycatch.