For 48 years, Terris, Pravlik & Millian has litigated complex cases across the country on important environmental and civil rights issues
In 1970, Bruce Terris founded the firm as the Law Offices of Bruce J. Terris. Bruce, who was an experienced Supreme Court litigator from his years as in the Office of the Solicitor General, was soon asked by the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice, the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organization) to write an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the landmark case of Sierra Club v. Morton, in which the Sierra Club challenged a proposed development by Disney that would jeopardize a beautiful area within the Sequoia National Forest known as Mineral King.
Bruce’s brief was distinctive because he included photographs of Mineral King; the Supreme Court’s opinion in Sierra Club v. Morton began with a description of the natural beauty of that area. Although the Court went on to affirm Sierra Club’s lack of standing, the case was nonetheless an important victory for the environmental movement because it established the principle that environmental and aesthetic harms are enough to establish injury for purposes of constitutional standing. Furthermore, the Court accepted Bruce’s alternative argument in remanding the case to allow Sierra Club to amend its complaint to include the necessary allegations of environmental and aesthetic harm. Thereafter, the district court enjoined the Disney project.
After Sierra Club v. Morton, Bruce became an environmental lawyer. Both national and local environmental groups brought their litigation work to Bruce, and Bruce and his partners handled environmental cases from Maine to Florida to Alaska. Read about our notable cases here.
The firm’s civil rights and employment practice began with the case of Alison Palmer. Ms. Palmer, a Foreign Service Officer in the State Department, claimed that she had been discriminated against in assignments and promotions because she was a woman. Eventually, her claim became the basis for a class action that alleged that females were the victims of discrimination in the hiring, promotion and assignment practices of the Foreign Service. The case was ultimately successful and resulted in broad reforms that led to a substantial increase in the number of female Foreign Service Officers and their promotion to the highest levels of the State Department.
The firm continues to prosecute civil rights and employment cases on behalf of individuals and classes. In Salazar v. District of Columbia, the firm achieved a consent decree against the District in a class action on behalf of Medicaid recipients to enforce their statutory and Constitutional rights. Most recently, in DL v. District of Columbia, the firm achieved an injunction against the District on behalf of preschool-age children with disabilities to enforce their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The firm has previously been known as the Law Offices of Bruce J. Terris, Terris & Sunderland, Terris, Edgecombe, Hecker & Wayne, and Terris, Pravlik & Wagner.