In August 2010, the Board of Governors of the Oregon State Bar selected Dick Roy as the first recipient of the President’s Sustainability Award. The award was created in 2010 to recognize extraordinary leadership by an Oregon lawyer or law firm in promoting sustainability within the Bar and legal profession. The Sustainable Future Section congratulates Dick on the formal recognition of his achievements.
In 1993, Dick left his successful legal career as a partner of Stoel Rives to join his wife, Jeanne, as a full-time volunteer. Together, they founded the nonprofit Northwest Earth Institute, which became a recognized leader in the Northwest sustainability movement. As Executive Director of the Northwest Earth Institute, Dick guided the successful development of innovative programs, including a series of six discussion courses offered nationwide (with enrollment of over 75,000), the Oregon Natural Step Network (1997), the Oregon High School Earth Club Network, the Coalition for Commercial-Free Schools, and the Sustainable Investment Institute.
In late 2005, Dick initiated informal meetings with Oregon lawyers regarding his concern that the legal profession was standing on the sidelines as the sustainability movement was gaining acceptance as a response to the impairment of the rights of future generations and the challenges of climate change. He was troubled that, unlike in other social movements, lawyers were not taking a prominent role in the sustainability movement. Most agreed that Dick’s concerns were worthy of a broader discussion among lawyers.
In early 2006, Dick led three focus groups with 43 lawyers to discuss the role of the legal profession in sustainability and whether a new group should be created. With the encouragement of the focus groups, Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future (OLSF) was launched in 2006, as one of several projects of the Center for Earth Leadership, a new nonprofit cofounded by Dick and Jeanne. Marshaling the talents, expertise, and energy of many lawyers and law office staff, OLSF quickly developed six practical tools designed to promote sustainable practices in the law office, including a model law office policy, checklists for the operation of the law office, for construction of tenant improvements, and for building managers of law office space, and guidelines for planning green events and for lunch vendors. Trained teams of volunteers met with law office sustainability teams to encourage use of the tools. The American Bar Association created a link to the OLSF tools to encourage their use in law offices across the country.
Through OLSF, Dick created an educational seminar entitled “Dimensions of Sustainability—Emerging Context for the Practice of Law” that he presented to over 600 Oregon lawyers in 20 separate programs. Concurrently, he taught numerous Earth Leadership seminars for Oregon lawyers. Participants engaged in extensive discussions on sustainability topics. Through these pioneering efforts, Dick generated awareness and motivation among countless Oregon lawyers and law firms. He was also instrumental in promoting awareness of sustainability in the corporate arena by supporting the successful enactment of Oregon House Bill 2826 (amending ORS 60.047) during the 2007 legislative session.
In 2006, Dick sought a greater commitment toward sustainability by the Board of Governors (BOG), but failed at that time to convince the BOG that there was a connection between sustainability and the legal profession. Dick responded by forming a study group to analyze this connection. In 2008, based on the study group’s work, he successfully convinced the BOG that a strong connection between law and sustainability existed. At Dick’s suggestion, the BOG organized an OSB Task Force on Sustainability, which published its report in September 2009, which led, among other things, to the adoption of the OSB bylaw on sustainability (Article 26) and the formation of the Sustainable Future Section. Through his vision, leadership, reputation, and educational initiatives, Dick ultimately forged a completely new perspective on the significant role that the legal profession and the organized bar can play in the movement toward a more sustainable society. The Oregon legal profession has been promoted to national prominence on this matter by his work and commitment.