Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16

FEATURE

Today, reflecting on the different turns of her career as an attorney and
environmental activist, Medina feels women in the law still face challenges, but that they are navigating their way around these barriers
toward more diversified and satisfying careers. "What I see is women
feeling less frustrated in their careers because they know there will be
opportunities for them to work, even if not in a law firm or law office
per se," Medina says.

Toward the end of the Clinton administration, Medina left government
to work for four years at a law firm with an energy practice, followed by
a two-year stint at Fannie Mae, which she expected to be less stressful.
However, four weeks after she started, federal regulators informed Fannie
Mae it was under investigation. Immediately, Medina focused on
improving the company's corporate governance, helping to establish
a program for ethics training.

Medina's passion for the environment has taken her from the federal
government to non-governmental organizations to private practice
to academia and online publishing. At the U.S. Department of Defense
(DOD), she met John Cruden, a former D.C. Bar president who at the time
was the Army's chief legislative counsel. Cruden became one of Medina's
mentors, along with Lois Jane Schiffer, former assistant attorney
general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) and a former member of the D.C. Bar Board
of Governors and D.C. Bar delegate to the American Bar Association.

But Medina's passion for environmentalism had not abated, and she
moved on to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), serving
as its U.S. deputy director and counsel. Considering IFAW's strong whale
conservation advocacy, Medina felt right at home.

During the first Clinton administration, Medina joined Cruden and Schiffer
at the Justice Department. A few years into her tenure, she was tasked
with protecting Yellowstone National Park, which at that time was threatened by a large-scale gold mining operation nearby. Leaching into the
park was a top concern, and Medina worked intensively on the government offer, estimating values, rights, and remedies.

''

I have certainly drawn on every job that I have
had to help me learn to be the best advocate that
I can be.
MONICA MEDINA
Our Daily Planet

Ultimately, the government, the mining company, and an environmental
coalition agreed to a $65 million government purchase, with the mining
company creating a fund to repair past mining damage at the site.
Medina reflects on her effort with great pride. "Because it's Yellowstone
National Park!" she says. "There isn't anything more iconically American
than that place."
Schiffer, who was also involved in the negotiations, remembers the case
as a clear example of Medina's strong commitment to environmental
protection and being "very creative in how to go about doing it."
"[She] worked with other people, and much of environmental law works
because people work together," Schiffer says.
Shortly thereafter, Medina was appointed general counsel for the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Starting the job right
after maternity leave, Medina became involved in what she calls her legal
career's "touchstone" - the oceans.
She found working on whale conservation especially rewarding, and she
led interagency discussions that staked out the U.S. position persuading
the International Maritime Organization to promulgate a rule for ships
entering the path of North Atlantic right whales, a species especially
vulnerable to vessel collisions.

16

WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MARCH/APRIL 2020

In 2008, when Barack Obama won his first presidential term, Medina
returned to government service, first as NOAA principal deputy undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere, and then at DOD as special assistant
to Secretary Leon Panetta. In both government offices she led successful
and historic efforts. At NOAA, Medina worked again with Schiffer, who
was appointed general counsel, and Cruden, then DOJ assistant attorney
general, on the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the
Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to immediate work on closing and opening fisheries, Medina
led NOAA's role in establishing an unprecedented $1 billion early restoration program that BP agreed to fund and that involved five states and
four government agencies. Medina was successful in assessing the
damage value based on ecological harm rather than damage per barrel
of oil. "Without a question, Monica played a key role," says Cruden.
No less key was Medina's position at DOD. She successfully led the government effort to abolish the combat exclusion rule for women, among other
accomplishments. For her work, Panetta awarded her the department's
Distinguished Public Service Medal.
Next, Medina accepted jobs at the National Geographic Society and then
the Walton Family Foundation. As National Geographic's senior director
of ocean policy, Medina advocated for the expansion of the Pacific Remote
Islands Marine National Monument, where commercial fishing is prohibited.
Currently, Medina is making her mark as cofounder, editor, and writer of the
online newsletter Our Daily Planet, which covers a wide range of environmental and conservation developments. Medina also teaches Ocean Law,
Sustainable Development, and Global Security at Georgetown University,
a course that examines "the patchwork quilt of laws that govern oceans."
"Monica is a real good example of someone who has kept ascending in
her jobs and making a difference in the positions she is in," Cruden says.
And throughout, Schiffer emphasizes, Medina has always taken the law
seriously. "That is something we have to keep asserting is important to
know and that Monica is committed to: the rule of law [and] using the
law creatively, but not going outside the boundaries of the law."
This serious commitment to the law, Medina reflects, has also brought
her much satisfaction. "I have certainly drawn on every job that I have had
to help me learn to be the best advocate that I can be, on behalf of our
readers and the environment," she says.
Richard Blaustein is a freelance science, environment, and legal journalist with
a background in environmental law.



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
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Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
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Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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