Leaning on the Law

Charlene Norman
3 min readJun 9, 2024


A few months ago, I read an article in the Guardian newspaper about how a group of older women in Switzerland had taken that country to court over the high carbon emissions in the air. The women argued that their rights to privacy and family life were being breached because they were particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of heat waves. The women won, and the case is sighted as a landmark case. The global litigation community is gearing up for more similar suits.

I posted on social media that while I was proud of the women and did not like litigation, perhaps this was the best and last route for concerned citizens. Almost immediately, I was attacked. Sigh.

Here’s what I did.

I pushed back and cited the Ford Pinto exploding back-end suit, the J&J Tylenol poisoning, the mandated seatbelts laws, the McDonald’s hot coffee suit and even the banning of smoking. I argued that, very likely, every one of the corporate heads impacted by the litigation brought forward in just these five circumstances felt annoyance, unjust persecution and abhorrence for spending gobs of money for nothing more than a nuisance. And yet, our society was much improved, businesses forever changed the way they conducted themselves, and humans had a much safer lifestyle. My attackers retreated.

I decided to find an environmental lawyer or two to interview for the podcast. This proved more complicated than you’d think. Perseverance is definitely a superpower.

The podcast starts a new series this week. It’s about the power of the law and a whole lot more. I hope you’ll find time to listen.

The first thing I said to my guest was how damn refreshing it is to speak with credible women in the environmental space. (I have no preference for the gender of my guests as long as I can get a good MIX. Finding that mix, to say the least, has been challenging.) She laughed and said, “There are so many of us, but very few stand up to be counted, noticed or heard.”

This is the one thing I’d like to leave you with.

Ladies, if you want to be heard, if you want to serve more, if you want to be respected as a go-to, it is IMPERATIVE that you stand up. The gents have been doing this since the beginning of time, and we can all see with our own eyes how the worst of them can still do better than the best of the women. For one simple reason. They are not afraid to stand up and be counted — even when they clearly should be sitting down.

If you’re a woman or even a shy guy and dream of more excitement and success, here are the three nuggets I have been cheerfully giving away to both sexes lately.

  1. Can’t find people with similar ideas about something as you? Start a group. Seriously. Most people shy away from playing leader. This means the field is open for those who step up and bring people in. That’s YOU.
  2. Change your routine. If you’ve been doing the same things for the last two years (let alone the previous twenty, like most people), STOP. Do something else! NOW. For example, do you hang around with the same crowd or group of people (excluding family) who belong to the same clubs, activities, and pastimes every week, month, or year? Find some new clubs and some new activities to try.
  3. Do one new and scary thing each week. Yes. Each. Week. This year, I decided to do one scary thing a day. Something that made me uncomfortable, felt risky and was completely outside my usual way of thinking or behaving. Between you and me, I haven’t done something every single day. But I have done something at least twice, even three times a week. Nope, I haven’t got everything I wanted. Yes, I have unintentionally annoyed some people. HOWEVER, more of the right doors are opening much more quickly.

Twenty years ago, I believed lawyers were necessary evils. Ten years ago, I learned that lawyers are pretty competent. These days, I believe lawyers should be part of the toolkit for every concerned businessperson and citizen.

When you stand up for Planet Earth, have a lawyer nearby. They have more talent and skill than most of us realize.



Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.