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Greenpeace Gets Two New Top Lawyers Amid Climate Change Fight

July 26, 2021, 9:56 AM

Greenpeace has named two new general counsel as the global environmental organization finds itself on the front lines of climate change litigation.

Kristin Casper, who has spent a dozen years in-house at Greenpeace, was named general counsel for its international coordinating arm in June. She confirmed her new role, which had not been announced publicly, in an email to Bloomberg Law.

Casper’s appointment comes two years after she became senior legal counsel for strategic litigation at Greenpeace International, where she has worked in Boulder, Colo., and its headquarters in Amsterdam.

In her new position, Casper said she’ll focus her attention on “empowering teams” of Greenpeace International lawyers to be “bold in amplifying the voices of those who are demanding a better world, while holding accountable those who are trying to lock us into environmental destruction and unjust systems.”

Casper spent the past eight months as interim general counsel for Greenpeace International, whose longtime legal chief Jasper Teulings stepped down in late 2020 to be director of strategic litigation for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

“When Jasper joined Greenpeace International, a lawyer was someone you rang when you were in trouble,” the organization said in a statement about his departure. “He leaves us having built a fully-fledged legal unit.”

The Amsterdam-based Casper cited “the current intersecting economic, biodiversity, climate, and health crises” as being her primary focus at Greenpeace International, which is structured as a stichting, the Dutch equivalent of a foundation. Casper said Greenpeace International is looking to fill her former senior strategic litigation role.

Greenpeace itself is a global network of independent national and regional organizations using the Greenpeace name. Greenpeace International acts as the coordinating body for their environmental efforts, Casper said.

The organization has come under attack in recent years from corporate interests using U.S. racketeering and antitrust laws to try and stymie the organization’s ability to fight climate change by working with other environmental activist groups.

Another Greenpeace Recruit

Casper’s elevation to general counsel came after Greenpeace USA—the U.S. charitable organization comprised of Greenpeace Inc. and the Greenpeace Fund Inc.—hired Jay Meisel to be its new general counsel in March.

The legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa handled Meisel’s placement at Greenpeace USA. Casper said that Greenpeace International didn’t use an external legal recruiter for her general counsel role.

Meisel is a former Senate legislative assistant to President Joe Biden. He spent the past 11 years at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a reproductive rights-focused nonprofit where he was interim general counsel since 2019.

He replaced longtime former Greenpeace USA general counsel Thomas Wetterer, who had been the nonprofit’s top lawyer since 2002 and was once arrested wearing a polar bear suit while protesting in 2008 outside the Department of the Interior.

An auto-response email from Wetterer said he left Greenpeace USA after almost 23 years with the organization to pursue a career as a teacher. Deepa Isac told Bloomberg Law that she succeeded Wetterer last year as interim general counsel.

Isac, a former deputy general counsel and chief of staff at Greenpeace USA, is now of counsel at Washington’s Handley Farah & Anderson. She’s also general counsel for the Indivisible Project, a nonprofit group formed to fight the Trump administration

Meisel took over this year from Isac at Greenpeace USA, whose most recent federal tax filing notes that it paid nearly $126,700 to Wetterer in 2019. A similar tax filing by Planned Parenthood shows that Meisel earned about $224,100 during fiscal 2019-20.

Planned Parenthood Change

Kumiki Gibson was picked to replace Meisel as of March 15 in the top legal role at Planned Parenthood and the Washington-based nonprofit’s political advocacy arm.

Gibson had since 2019 served as the top lawyer for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). She resigned in March amid a furor over sexual harassment allegations involving the governor and criticism of his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prior to working for Cuomo and joining Planned Parenthood, Gibson served in the Clinton administration as a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and was counsel to former Vice President Al Gore. She’s also been general counsel for The Johns Hopkins University and a partner at Williams & Connolly.

“It’s been an honor to join the Planned Parenthood executive leadership team at a time of great challenges and opportunities for this storied organization and the reproductive rights movement,” Gibson said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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