Imagine you are an American activist attorney newly arrived in Great Britain. You would like to work with local environmentalists, but the major organizations prefer to campaign rather than use the courts to hold lawbreakers, be they governments or corporations, accountable. Do you compromise on your principles and join a corporate law firm, or do you take a gigantic risk by starting a legal nonprofit and setting your own agenda?

That was the dilemma that confronted James Thornton before he...

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