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Donald S. Simon

Phone: 510.834.6600
Fax: 510.808.4687
E-mail: DSimon@wendel.com v-card


Donald primarily focuses on matters related to business and construction law, green building and environmental policy.  He has broad experience representing public and private clients on a multitude of contract, litigation, regulatory and general business issues.  Donald co-founded the firm’s Green Business Practice Group and led the firm’s internal sustainability efforts, including becoming the first law firm to attain green business certification.

Donald is a national leader and speaker for the green economy and has devoted himself to creating the framework necessary for incenting business to become the engine of environmental sustainability and social responsibility.  He co-chaired the effort to write and pass California's Benefit Corporation law (AB361), creating a new legal framework for businesses seeking to do well while doing good.  He co-founded the two organizations that have made California the global green building leader, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Northern California Chapter and Build It Green.  He is general counsel to both organizations, as well as the California Solar Energy Industry Association and Efficiency First.  Donald hosted the West Coast Green, the leading conference and trade show for green innovation.  On the international level, he teamed with the City of San Francisco in 2005 to organize and host the United Nations’ largest international conference of local government leaders to address urban environmental sustainability issues.

Active in environmental issues for many years, Donald previously worked for Environmental Defense Fund to develop the first international framework for cross-border air pollution offsets.  He has also represented various organizations on issues related to old-growth forest protection and logging concerns, including Sierra Club, Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, the California Heritage Tree Initiative and Buckeye Forest Council.  In law school, he served as president of the Ohio State University Environmental Law Association. 

  • Ohio State University; J.D. (1995)
  • Ohio State University; B.A. (1992)

Benefit Corporation Legislation
Donald has taken an active leadership role in the passage of AB-361, California's Benefit Corporation legislation, which became effective January 2012. To learn more, please read the press release or watch the following videos showcasing some of the news coverage. 


Close Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • State Bar of Ohio 

Close Publications

  • Inside the Minds: Strategies for Green Real Estate Law, contributing author, 2013
  • "The Need for Benefit Corporations," Stanford Social Innovation Review, letter to the editor, Winter 2013
  • “A Structure for Promoting Greater Efficiency in the Real Estate Sector to Address Climate Change,” white paper presented to California Air Resources Board on behalf of California commercial real estate industry, U.S. Green Building Council and the Real Estate Roundtable, 2009
  • "The Legalese of Green," Building Operating Management magazine, April 2008
  • "Strong Financial Incentives for Installing Solar Power on California Buildings," Green Building Quarterly, Spring 2006
  • "Industry Trade Associations: Why USGBC Invited Them as Members," Green Building Quarterly, December 2005
  • "Industry Trade Associations: An Impediment to Green Business," Green Building Quarterly, October 2005
  • "California Takes Lead in Promoting Green Building," Green Building Quarterly, August 2005
  • "Governor's Green Executive Order Good for State," Green Building Quarterly, July 6, 2005
  • "Green Building-Turning Ideas Into Reality," Environmental Watch, Sky Radio interview, August 2003
  • White Paper on Industry Trade Associations as Obstacles to Environmental Sustainability, 2005
  • Best Practices Manual, California Collaborative for High Performance Schools, contributing author, 2002

Close Affiliations

  • U.S. Green Building Council, Northern California Chapter
    • Co-Founder
    • Board member, 2002 to 2005
    • General Counsel, 2001 to present
  • Build It Green, Berkeley
    • Co-Founder
    • President, 2001 to 2010
    • Board member, 2001 to 2011
    • General Counsel, 2001 to present
  • California Solar Energy Industry Association
    • General Counsel, 2010 to present
  • Efficiency First
    • General Counsel, 2010 to present

Close Speaking & Teaching

  • "Benefit Corporations: Formation and Regulatory Issues," a TeleBriefing sponsored by Law Seminars International, September 12, 2013
  • "triple Bottom Line Businesses and Implications for Organizational Development Practitioners," webinar panelist, Pepperdine University, April 16, 2013
  • Recycling Exposition Conference, keynote speaker, March 13, 2013
  • "Triple Bottom Line and CSR," panelist, Pepperdine University Masters of Science in Organization Development Alumni Council Conference, December 13, 2012
  • "Benefit Corporations: Practical Considerations for Businesses and Their Counsel," a TeleBriefing sponsored by Law Seminars International, December, 13, 2012
  • Practical Necessities and Preparation Requirements for Successful Solar Projects,” Green California Community College Summit in Pasadena, California, September 28, 2012 
  • “How Benefit Corporations Support the Development of the Sustainable Enterprise Movement,” presenter, Sustainable Enterprise 2012 Conference, May 11, 2012
  • Green Technology magazine interview, “A New Kind of Corporation in California for a New Bottom Line”, February 3, 2012
  • "How To Become a Benefit Corporation," Green Chamber of Commerce, December 7, 2011
  • "Pursuing Profit and Purpose: Discussion of Benefit Corporation and Flex Purpose Corporation Legislation Pending in California," The Hub, San Francisco, CA, July 21, 2011
  • "Understanding California Benefit Corporation Legislation," Alameda County Bar Association, June 2, 2011
  • "California: America's Competitive Edge in the New Energy Economy," Keynote Address International Green Industry Hall of Fame, Merced, CA, April 25, 2011
  • West Coast Green, green innovation trade show and conference, Master of Ceremonies and Presenter, 2006 – 2010
  • Analysis of President Obama's State of the Union Address, Marin Democrats, San Rafael, CA, January 25, 2011
  • Impact of California's 2010 Race For Governor, Marin County Democratic Party, October 2010
  • California Proposition 23 Debate, Bay Area Council, July 22, 2010, 
  • Frequent speaker on green building and sustainable business in the U.S., 2001 – Present
    • Hot California Green Building Policies, San Francisco Bar Association, May 26, 2011
    • Basic Green Building Liability Considerations, USGBC, August 10, 2010
    • Sustainable Industries Interviews Don Simon, Sustainable Industries magazine podcast, July 28, 2010
    • Trendwatch 2010 Sustainable Industries Journal Web Conference, January 6, 2010
    • "Legal Contracting Bootcamp and Basic Power Purchase Agreements," Solar Power International Conference, October 30, 2009
    • "Incentives and Mandates: Regulatory Future for Green Building," Online Green Building Summit, BrightTALK, April 22, 2009
    • "Legal Contracting Bootcamp for Solar Power," Solar Power International Conference, October 17, 2008
    • "Green Leasing: The Next Step," Institute for Real Estate Management, July 23, 2008
    • "Green Leasing,"  Pacific Energy Center, June 2008
    • Keynote Address for 10th Anniversary of Bay Area Green Business Certification program, April 2008
    • "Green Building Through the Eyes of the Legal, Finance, Development and Insurance Industries," keynote speaker, CLE International, February 21, 2008
    • "Impact of Climate Change Policy's Impact on the Building Industry" presentation to Building Owners and Managers Association national board meeting, September 2007
    • "Middle Market Green Business Opportunities,"  Alliance for Corporate Growth, August 2007
    • "Economic Summit 2007," California State University East Bay, June 2007
    • "Alameda County Green Business Program 10th Anniversary," Bay Area Green Business Program, April 2007
    • "Green Building Demystified," East Bay chapter of CREW, April 2007
    • "Current Trends in Green/Clean/Sustainable Technology Markets,"  Alliance of Chief Executives CEO Roundtable, March 2007
    • The Business Council on Climate Change, launch, March 2007
    • "Operating a Sustainable Business," California State University East Bay, Sustainable Business Management Program, February 2007
    • "Demystifying the Economics: What it Will Really Cost You to Build Green,"  Developing and Investing in Green Buildings Conference, February 2007
    • Presentation to China's Renewable Energy Trade Mission on U.S. solar industry, March 2006
    • "Environmental Sustainability 101," Rotary International, March 2006
    • Green Building presentation to French nuclear energy industry, April 2005
    • University of San Francisco panel on sustainable business and corporate social responsibility, 2005
    • San Francisco Business Times panel on sustainable business, 2004
    • "California Construction Law: Can This Job Be Saved?" Lorman Education Services, Oakland, 2002 and 2003

Close Awards & Recognition

  • “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” Award, California Lawyer Magazine, February 2012
  • "Founder Recognition" Award, Build It Green, December 2011
  • "B Corp National MVP" Award, B Lab, November 2011
  • "B Corp I'm Just A Bill" Award, B Lab, November 2011
  • "Green Building Visionary" Award, 2nd Annual Build It Green "Green Building Awards," December, 2010
  • “Community Partnership in Sustainability” Corporate Philanthropy Award, San Francisco Business Times, July 2010
  • "Green Leaders," California Real Estate Journal, December 7, 2009
  • “Green Super Hero” Special Achievement Award, U.S. Green Building Council, October 2008
  • Top Attorney in the East Bay for Environmental Sustainability, East Bay Business Times, June 2007
  • "Top 40 Under 40," East Bay Business Times, July 2006