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Early members of the ELAW network in March, 1992
Early members of the ELAW network in March, 1992.

Public interest lawyers from 10 countries founded ELAW in 1989. These lawyers were working together at a public interest law conference at the University of Oregon School of Law. As they talked, they discovered that communities in their countries were facing similar environmental challenges. They realized that if they could share strategies and legal and scientific information across borders, they could promote environmental protection more effectively.

ELAW's founders agreed to collaborate, replicate successful environmental policies and learn from each other's experience. They began their cross-border collaboration in the early days of e-mail.

As the network of public interest lawyers grew, ELAW became a pioneer in wiring the grassroots. ELAW brought the first email service to public interest advocates in Indonesia and Mongolia.

Today, more than 300 public interest advocates from 70 countries participate in the ELAW network.