Rise in legal philanthropy may help China's environment.

Author:Liu, Yingling
Position:EYE ON EARTH - Brief article

A new coalition of law firms in eastern China may represent a rise in the use of legal measures to address the country's mounting environmental woes. This spring, 10 firms in Zibo City, an industrial city in Shandong province, voluntarily set up an environmental law alliance to help authorities handle pollution complaints and provide legal assistance to victims, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Zibo City has witnessed a growing number of pollution complaints in recent years as the economy has developed. Residents have traditionally relied on the government to respond to these concerns, sending letters and paying visits to local officials. Inundated with disputes, the government is now trying to reduce the burden by channeling people to the courts.

For legal professionals, representing environmental victims in today's China is more a philanthropic deed than a profitable endeavor. Plaintiffs, mostly under-represented rural farmers, have few resources to engage in complex legal battles. In nearly all...

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