Stories from the Field

50th Anniversary Sponsor Highlight: Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

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Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is one of NatureBridge’s 50th Anniversary sponsors. We spoke with Martin L. Fineman, one of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s partners, about the law firm’s longtime relationship with NatureBridge.

Just in the last few years, 27 different Davis Wright Tremaine LLP lawyers have performed pro bono work for NatureBridge.
Martin L. Fineman

First of all, tell us a little about Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.: 

We are a full service, national law firm of approximately 580 lawyers, with offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California; Seattle and Bellevue, Washington; Washington, D.C.; New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Anchorage, Alaska. Coincidentally, that means we have offices near all of the NatureBridge campuses, and then some. Our law firm covers the full range of business transactions, litigation, employment, benefits and other regulatory law for our clients.

How did your own involvement with NatureBridge begin?

More than 25 years ago, I was a partner in another law firm. NatureBridge Board Emeritus Linda Brownstein asked me if I would be willing to help NatureBridge with a legal matter on a pro bono basis. I very enthusiastically agreed! Interestingly, that law firm also had a longstanding relationship with NatureBridge. In fact, it was the law firm that had incorporated Yosemite National Institute as a non-profit organization back in 1971, 50 years ago.

The early days of the Yosemite Institute with founder Don Rees

I imagine that you, and many lawyers, get a lot of requests to do pro bono work for a variety of deserving organizations. What led you to want to work on that matter for NatureBridge?

It was an easy decision! NatureBridge’s mission of connecting young people to the science and majesty of national parks and the natural world is so compelling.

We’ve spoken with Tracy Thompson about her experience as a Board member and how she saved an invaluable gift from NatureBridge from being taken by creditors. It’s my understanding that you introduced NatureBridge to Tracy, is that right?

That’s correct. A while after Linda asked me to aid NatureBridge on a legal matter, it had another legal issue that was outside my area of practice. I asked a friend of mine, Tracy Thompson, to help out since she was a true expert in that subject. Not only did Tracy gladly help NatureBridge with that and other legal matters, but she went on to become a longtime NatureBridge Board member. Years later, we were law partners again at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

Small world, isn’t it? Tracy for many years was a devoted Board member.

In a similar vein, I asked Dipa Sudra in our Seattle office to assist NatureBridge with a legal matter. She did, and then Dipa went on to become an Olympic Board member and she currently serves in that role.

Dipa is incredible, too. It seems like there is almost a pipeline.

It has been our pleasure to help NatureBridge on a pro bono basis with a variety of legal matters. Just in the last few years, 27 different Davis Wright Tremaine LLP lawyers have performed pro bono work for NatureBridge.

That level of involvement by Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is inspiring and truly humbling. What’s in the water over there, so to speak? Why has NatureBridge become so beloved and supported by the law firm?

Well, in general the firm is very socially-minded and we really value being involved in our communities. More specifically I think NatureBridge really strikes a chord for us in terms of providing environmental education (and fun) for thousands and thousands of children and teens, many of whom may live in cities and may not otherwise have that exposure to national parks and the natural environment.

Have NatureBridge’s programs impacted you and your family directly? 

Back when two of my children were in high school, they attended NatureBridge’s environmental education program in Yosemite. They absolutely loved it. They learned so much about the environment and it deepened their appreciation of Yosemite’s beauty and majesty. For me, each year’s Annual Gala is really special. It would be hard, in fact, to pick a favorite memory of mine from any of the galas over the years. The speakers have all been incredibly inspiring.

Dipa has spent time on campus with her family, and her daughter’s Girl Scout troop even spent their cookie dollars on a NatureBridge field trip! Needless to say, all time spent on any of NatureBridge’s campuses is magical. Dipa’s son was scheduled to go on an Olympic summer backpacking trip last year, but unfortunately that got cancelled due to COVID. He and his friends are eagerly awaiting that program reopening.

It’s clear that the individual staff members and attorneys feel strongly about supporting NatureBridge and its environmental science education; what makes Davis Wright Tremaine LLP choose to be a sponsor of NatureBridge at an institutional level?

We are very proud of our association with NatureBridge and appreciate all of the great work it does for the communities we practice in. NatureBridge’s work on the Elwha River restoration is so inspiring, and so impactful on local communities. The work done to bring children to the outdoors and expose them to the environment is absolutely vital. We have enjoyed being a sponsor of NatureBridge for years, and want to wish the organization a very happy 50th anniversary.

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