CEQA Crusader or CEQA Bounty Hunter?

Liam Dillon tells the story of Cory Briggs, a notorious lawyer in Southern California famous for opposing projects under the auspices of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Here's a sample of how Cory Briggs is described in the article by Dillon:

  • "No attorney sues under the state’s main environmental quality law more than him," writes Dillon.
  • "People are just scared to death Cory Briggs is going to sue over something," said San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman.
  • Briggs' $1.25 million home with a wide view of the Pacific Ocean has been called "The House That Wal-Mart Built."

The article presents both sides to a conflicting story. Is he an environmental crusader, protecting John and Jane Q against greedy developers, or is he an opportunist, using smoke and mirrors to profit while damaging economic developer?

On the one hand, "Briggs’ primary opponent is Wal-Mart. It’s nothing personal against the world’s largest retailer – the company just happens to want to build projects that are bad for the environment and don’t react kindly to his clients’ demands, he said. Briggs believes he’s a fierce advocate for citizens who can’t take on powerful developers by themselves."

On the other hand, the San Francisco office of the law firm Holland & Knight "tracked all the CEQA suits in California for three years, ending in 2012. Briggs was responsible for 32 of them, about 5 percent of the total. No lawyer in the state filed more than Briggs in that time."

On the latter point, the article also details how many of the organizations Briggs represent seem to have dubious memberships and agendas, if any.

Full Story: How San Diego’s Most Disruptive Lawyer Makes His Money


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