UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

State's chief deputy attorney general joins law school

– California Chief Deputy Attorney General Richard M. Frank will join the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) as the first executive director of the new California Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CCELP), law school officials announced today (Wednesday, March 1). His appointment comes as the law school builds its distinguished environmental law program to address the next generation of environmental and natural resource challenges.

The top legal adviser to the state attorney general, Frank caps a 30-year career in California government. Assuming his new duties in August, Frank will team with the center's new associate director, Cymie Payne, a 1997 Boalt Hall alumna returning to campus from the United Nations in Geneva.

Richard M. Frank
Richard M. Frank (Photos by Jim Block)

"Rick's reputation as an environmental lawyer extends throughout California and nationally," said Daniel Farber, the California Center for Environmental Law & Policy's faculty director and Boalt Hall's Sho Sato Professor of Law. "Boalt's great environmental program is moving into an entirely different level. With Rick and Cymie onboard, we'll take a leading role in crucial environmental debates - at the state and national level, and even internationally."

Launched last fall, the center is pursuing an ambitious agenda spotlighting the scholarly leadership of a renowned faculty in one of the nation's oldest and most respected environmental law programs. The new center already is tackling initiatives that will propose legal responses to future catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

"For years, Boalt has had perhaps the premier environmental program of any major law school in the nation," said Frank, whose expertise encompasses environmental law, land use, energy issues and property rights. "The creation and launching of the center will just enhance that tradition."

To meet its goals, the environmental law and policy center will draw upon intellectual resources throughout UC Berkeley, the energy and talents of Boalt Hall students and California's long-standing role as an environmental pioneer. Farber said the center plans to use California as a living laboratory for studying climate, water, energy and other pressing environmental issues.

"Our goal is to provide innovative tools for solving the most difficult environmental problems," said Farber, an internationally recognized environmental and constitutional law scholar.

Additional projects at the center will forge international ties on a host of environmental issues, promote the use of digital technology to create access to environmental data, and explore non-adversarial alternatives to environmental battles.

Frank earned his law degree from UC Davis in 1974. After a two-year stint as a staff attorney at the U.S. Federal Energy Administration in Washington, D.C., Frank went to work in Sacramento in 1976 for the California Energy Commission. The following year, he joined the state attorney general's office as an attorney in the Land Law Section. As the chief deputy attorney general for legal affairs since 2003, Frank serves as the attorney general's principal liaison to state government, the legislature and judiciary. He teaches a seminar at Boalt Hall on California environmental issues.

Frank said he was "hugely impressed" by Boalt Hall's commitment under Dean Christopher Edley to applying its scholarship to public policy concerns. In climate change, water supply, energy policy and other matters, "I think the center can leverage academic resources and hopefully have an impact on policy making in Sacramento and elsewhere," Frank said.

Cymie Payne
Cymie Payne

Along with serving as the center's associate director, Payne will direct a new Global Commons Project designed to develop the influence of environmental law on global policy. Payne comes to Boalt Hall after six years at the United Nations Compensation Commission, where she was a senior attorney responsible for an international team of lawyers and technical experts assessing claims of damage to the environment and public health from conflict in the Persian Gulf. Most recently, Payne participated in an initiative by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Iraq to develop environmental cooperation in the Gulf region. She is a graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a joint program of Tufts and Harvard universities that is based in Massachusetts.

"She brings a strong international dimension to the program, which is essential as environmental issues become increasingly global," said Farber.

Of her return to Boalt Hall, Payne said, "Boalt is perfectly positioned to take its leadership on the environment to even greater heights. We have an exceptional team that will draw on the intellectual assets of the law school while collaborating with other schools throughout the university."