by Mike DeBlasi | January 24, 2023 5:21 pm
Orr & Reno recently said farewell to an exceptional person, highly respected colleague, and friend, Maureen D. Smith, who was a member of the firm’s Environmental practice group. Throughout her career at Orr & Reno, she represented businesses and individual clients, counseling them on various federal and state environmental permitting and compliance matters in transactional and enforcement settings.
That is a very broad-brush description of a person who had an enormous impact on the firm — and on how we understand and implement environmental and energy policies in our state and nation.
Before coming to Orr & Reno in 2008, Maureen served as the state’s enforcer in environmental matters. She was a highly regarded official at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. Looking back, I think Maureen was personally and intellectually challenged by the transition she was choosing to make — from an enforcer of the law to becoming more of a legal coach, helping clients understand and minimize risk.
I would guess that at least one of the things that Maureen loves most about the law is its lack of ambiguity — at least when it’s appropriately codified. She doesn’t like gray areas, and that core sensibility served her well as a regulatory public official. But to become an attorney serving our business clients, Maureen was challenged to change her perspective and delve into the gray areas between regulation and practice, where things weren’t always so black and white.
It was extremely gratifying to watch Maureen evolve and flourish as a legal professional, helping our clients avoid and minimize risk while also recognizing that a degree of risk is sometimes, necessarily, a part of the equation.
Maureen’s knowledge of environmental law and related regulatory issues is prodigious and nuanced. This knowledge, coupled with her direct, detailed, and systematic sensibilities, made her extremely valuable as an advisor and team member for everyone at the firm.
She is also a gifted and accomplished scholar in legal ethics. Her role as the hub of the Professional Misconduct practice group at Orr & Reno has been invaluable for many of our associates and clients throughout her tenure. Whenever we had a question — about almost anything — Maureen always knew the answer.
I can attest to the peace of mind I felt whenever Maureen was on a team with me. When Maureen was involved, I never worried about missing steps, flawed research, or a typo slipping by. She is thorough, thoughtful, methodical, and careful in every aspect of her work.
Maureen is one of the best writers I’ve experienced in my legal career. It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows her that Maureen is proficient in all the rules of English grammar, spelling, and punctuation. What made her one of the firm’s best writers was how she took her mastery of these fundamentals and — recognizing the power of words when properly placed —developed a highly engaging and effective legal voice that is a true pleasure to read.
Maureen is what many of us refer to as a lawyer’s lawyer. We all leaned on her, depended on her, and relied on her for many things over the years. While she will be missed, I know she’ll always be a close friend of the firm as she steps into this new chapter of her life.
— Peter Burger
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