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United States > Industry focus > Environment: regulatory > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


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  1. Environment: regulatory
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

The ‘extremely capable’ environmental boutique Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. is at the forefront of the market, representing major corporations and industry groups in the full breadth of environmental regulatory matters. Headline work included acting as lead counsel to Union Station Redevelopment Corporation regarding the planning, design and construction of Union Station’s 2nd Century project, a mixed-use development in the heart of Washington DC. The advice includes compliance matters, preparation of environmental documents, and review of possible litigation risks involving NEPA and NHPA. The team is also serving as environmental counsel to Inland American Real Estate Trust, the owner of the Sacramento Railyards, in the negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad, the former owner, and a myriad of regulatory agencies and other stakeholders regarding getting the property cleaned up and sold. The team includes ‘very talented lawyers’, such as Austin-based Karen Hansen. The Wellesley office saw the departure of Nancy Kaplan, who took an in-house role at Eversource Energy, and the appointment of Jeanine Grachuk as a principal of the firm. Since publication, San Francisco-based Nicholas van Aelstyn has joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP.

The ‘top-drawer’ environmental team at Latham & Watkins LLP has an exceptional regulatory practice, including permitting, compliance, agency rulemaking and legislation, enforcement actions and litigation. Los Angeles-based James Arnone chairs the group and Mary Rose Alexander in Chicago is vice chair. Former practice chair Robert Wyman splits his time between Los Angeles and Washington DC. A team led by Wyman is assisting Arizona Public Service Company in the environmental aspects of the renewal of the site lease for the Four Corners Power Plant on the Navajo Nation and across the Hopi Reservation; the advice included the environmental review process under NEPA as well as coordinating with federal agencies on compliance with the ESA and NHPA. The team is acting for Monsanto in regulatory matters related to the development of new genetically engineered crops. New York-based Gary Gengel is recommended. Marc Campopiano in Orange County and Andrea Hogan in San Francisco were recently promoted to the partnership.

The team at Sidley Austin LLP is praised for its ‘exceptional knowledge of the industry and regulatory implications’, as well as for its ‘great response times and excellent service’. The recommended Roger Martella, in Washington DC, has been very active in representing a large industry coalition on issues related to the Council on Environmental Quality’s draft guidance on incorporating greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change in NEPA reviews. Regarding the Clean Air Act, the team assists a high-profile roster of clients, including Ford, John Deere and Cummins, in different matters related to the regulation of vehicle emissions. The team, which is led from Los Angeles by Judith Praitis, is also well regarded for advising clients on compliance with a wide range of California laws regulating air emissions, water discharges, solid and hazardous waste management and medical waste management. Robert Olian and Byron Taylor in the Chicago office and Washington DC-based David Buente are highly recommended.

The environmental practice at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP has strong litigation expertise and is also well regarded for its prowess in regulatory, compliance and enforcement advice under the full range of environmental laws, including the CAA, CWA, and CERCLA. Newly appointed chair of practice Brian Israel and Thomas Milch, both of whom are based in Washington DC, are assisting BP in all regulatory matters related to the settlement of the Deep Horizon case with the DOJ, the five Gulf states and around 300 local government entities. The Mosaic Company called upon the firm to serve as national counsel on a wide array of environmental regulatory, permitting and litigation matters. Former deputy commissioner and general counsel of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Edward McTiernan joined the New York office.

Best known for its energy-related expertise, the environmental practice at Hunton & Williams LLP is well regarded for its regulatory know-how and provides ‘outstanding’ service. Among its recommended lawyers in Washington DC are air expert William Wehrum, Lucinda Langworthy, Kristy Bulleit and Virginia Albrecht. The team handles federal and state regulatory proceedings and provides compliance advice on air, water, waste, climate change, mining, chemicals, petroleum and multinational environmental policy. New clients include Duke Energy and Hershey, and more established clients include Utility Water Act Group, Utility Air Regulatory Group and the American Petroleum Institute.

Considered ‘one of the best law firms out there’, Vinson & Elkins LLP is well respected for its environmental regulatory work. Houston-based Larry Nettles chairs the team following the retirement of Carol Dinkins. The team has been working with clients in presenting strategies to address climate-enhanced risks in flood hazard zones. Recent additions to the Washington DC office include the former acting director of the EPA’s special litigation and projects division within the Office of Civil Enforcement, Andrew Stewart. Other notable clients include Anadarko Petroleum, Freeport-McMoRan and White Stallion Energy Center.

At Baker Botts L.L.P., the environmental practice is led by from Washington DC by Steven Leifer. It advises clients in every aspect of federal and state air regulation and international air emissions programs and strategies, and has been deeply involved in challenging various water regulations across several jurisdictions and river basins. As part of its work on behalf of Class of ‘85 Regulatory Response Group - formed by the firm in the 90s and composed of approximately 30 US investor-owned, municipal and cooperative electric generating companies - the team has prepared comments for the group on several EPA rulemakings. Other clients include BP Products North America, Entergy, ExxonMobil and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority. Megan Berge was promoted to partner in the Washington DC office.

Bracewell LLP’s environmental practice is led from Washington DC by Jason Hutt and provides strategic advice and advocacy on air quality, climate change, water quality, wetlands and waste. The team enhanced its capabilities to supports clients in contested case proceedings, project development, investigations, and enforcement with the addition of four new partners to its Austin office, Sara Burgin, Kevin Collins, Matt Paulson and Whit Swift, previously of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Recent matters include assisting Southern Company, the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association on greenhouse gas, climate change and energy environmental policy matters.

The environmental team at Dentons excels in its regulatory and legislative know-how, and advises a stellar list of clients on internal environmental audits, design and implementation of environmental compliance programs and systems, as well as compliance strategies. Representative matters include providing advice to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association on air matters, OSHA rules and greenhouse gas federal regulations. The team also assisted Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility - a 265MW project in western Imperial County, California - on the environmental impact assessment process under NEPA, as well as on environmental permitting matters. San Francisco-based Nicholas Yost is the key contact.

King & Spalding LLP boosted its regulatory capabilities through the hire of the experienced Granta Nakayama from Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Nakayama represented Kia Motors in relation to claims by the US Government regarding the fuel economy of its vehicles; this included negotiating a settlement and assistance with post-settlement implementation and compliance issues. A team led by Ilana Saltzbart is working for Statoil in a series of related state and federal regulatory investigations and enforcement actions arising from a well pad fire and explosion in Ohio that released chemical substances into the environment. Atlanta-based Patricia Barmeyer is the other key partner.

At Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the environmental practice covers the full spectrum of regulatory matters, including procurement of permits, enforcement of actions and challenging rules and policies. Eco Services Operations retained the firm to handle its compliance with the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure plan and Facility Response Plan requirements under the CWA before three EPA regional offices, the Department of Transportation, and the US Coast Guard. The team is also assisting AstraZeneca in the clean-up of the Delaware Sand & Gravel Superfund site. Newly promoted partners include Yardena Zwang-Weissman in Los Angeles, and Brad Nes and Randall Mark Levine in Washington DC. James Dragna in Los Angeles is the team leader. Senior counsel Edward Strohbehn is another name to note.

Spread across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington DC, the environmental practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP is well regarded for its climate change, natural resources, chemicals in consumer products, green chemistry, and Proposition 65 expertise. The team is providing strategic advice to a coalition of owners and investors regarding sea level rise legislation proposed by the state of California. It is also advising some of the largest retailers, including Costco, Sears and Kmart, regarding ambiguities and contradictions in the state of California’s hazardous waste regulations. San Francisco-based Chris Carr heads the team.

Washington DC-based boutique Van Ness Feldman LLP is admired for its ‘superb services and its unquestionably excellent knowledge of the industry’. The firm handles every aspect of regulatory environmental law, including air pollution, climate change and energy project permitting. In 2015, the firm was busy assisting its diverse roster of clients on understanding the complexities of the EPA’s Clean Air Act 111(d) regulations, as well as the changes to the definition of ‘waters of the US’ under the Clean Water Act. In a notable mandate, it is providing counsel to the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation on a variety of federal policy issues and regulations, including those that affect offshore and onshore oil and gas development in the Arctic. Former senator Mary Landrieu recently joined as a non-attorney senior policy adviser. Jonathan Simon is regarded as ‘very amiable, intelligent and efficient lawyer’.

The Chicago-based team at Baker McKenzie LLP is especially strong in the Midwest and is recognized for assisting a notable list of clients from a range of industries on regulatory, enforcement defense and litigation matters. The regulatory experience includes assisting on development of global environmental compliance programs, strategic global environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility initiatives, as well as the formulation of global climate change policies. Team leader John Watson and Richard Saines are the key contacts.

Adam Kushner in Washington DC and Scott Reisch in Denver are the two main contacts for environmental matters at Hogan Lovells US LLP. The team is noted for its work related to the CAA, the CWA, land use, NEPA, solid and hazardous waste, and ESA. Recent mandates include assisting Delfin LNG with its efforts to obtain all necessary federal and state approvals for the first floating liquefied natural gas deepwater port. In other matters, Kushner and Kenneth Kastner, also in the Washington DC office, are advising 3M on issues regarding hazardous waste, hazardous materials transportation, and CAA regulations.

The ‘strategic and tacticalteam at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is led by Houston-based Mark Farley and Washington DC-based Steve Solow. It has recognized expertise in air and climate change matters, and acts as counsel to the Air Permitting Forum, a group of Fortune 100 companies that develops practical and effective advice for all aspects of the permit process under the CAA. After losing a team of four partners to Bracewell LLP, the Houston office was boosted by the arrival of Greg Dillard and Daniella Landers from Vinson & Elkins LLP and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP respectively. Charles Knauss and Shannon Broome joined Hunton & Williams LLP.

At Paul Hastings LLP, the environmental and energy practice, which is led by Peter Weiner, is split between the San Francisco and Washington DC offices. It has built a name in the regulatory arena representing clients in relation to the siting and permitting of solar energy plants, brownfield redevelopment and clean-up sites, defense against governmental regulations, and climate change matters. Highlights included the ongoing representation of Boeing in negotiations with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the Regional Water Quality Control Board and other agencies in various regulatory matters related to the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Ventura County. Deborah Schmall and Robert Hoffman in San Francisco are also noted.

At Perkins Coie LLP, the environmental team scores ‘very high’ thanks to a team of ‘very responsive staff’ who are ‘well informed and always providing appropriate advice without unnecessary use of resources’. Highlights of the last year included advising Donlin Gold, a company owned by NovaGold Resources and Barrick Gold, on the regulatory aspects of its plan for a gold mining project in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region of western Alaska. The Bellevue, Washington DC and Seattle offices were boosted by the respective promotions to partner of Donna Barnett, Alexandra Bromer and Meredith Weinberg. Eric Fjelstad, Robert Maynard and Cameron Leonard in Anchorage and Jeff Hunter in Portland are recommended.

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