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“Mayer Brown is ‘extremely well connected and knowledgeable in all areas,’ and its litigation team is ‘top notch, with advocacy connections that cannot be duplicated.’”  —Legal 500 USA


Responding to Mass Environmental Tort Litigation: A How-To

Current Issues in Internal Corporate Investigations

Mayer Brown’s Environmental team offers innovative solutions to clients facing litigation, navigating enforcement concerns, implementing regulatory compliance programs or tackling issues that arise in transactions. Our global presence—frequently representing clients in cross-border disputes and transactions throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East—is significantly supplemented by our deep experience litigating major cases in state and federal courts across the United States and providing preeminent appellate services.

We represent clients in such high-stakes matters as emerging torts relating to greenhouse gas emissions; site-based mass tort claims, such as the Flint, Michigan, water cases and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) litigation; issues of first impression under the Clean Water Act; challenges to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations under the Clean Air Act; criminal environmental prosecutions; renewable energy projects—including wind and solar facilities that involve complicated permitting and regulatory requirements—and complex environmental cleanup projects involving the application of cutting-edge remediation technologies. We litigate and win significant cases, and we have unparalleled experience handling high-profile environmental cases. Our team includes some of the most distinguished environmental lawyers in the country. Indeed, two of our partners were recently named Energy & Environmental Trailblazers by The National Law Journal, which recognizes lawyers who “continue to make their mark in various aspects of legal work in the areas of energy and environmental law.”

Our firm’s recognition in the field is extensive. Mayer Brown was one of only five firms named Environmental Practice Group of the Year by Law360. We are also continuously recognized by Chambers USA and Legal 500 US as a top environmental practice. Chambers USA 2018 reports, “‘…they're good at litigation, good at counselling and cover the range in terms of practice areas.’ Clients said ‘They're very diligent, well informed and resourceful.’” Chambers USA also quoted clients who said we are “‘[r]esponsive, sophisticated practitioners who understand both the nuances of environmental law and also how the real world operates.’” Legal 500 quoted clients who said, “‘Mayer Brown’s service is extremely good,’ [they have] ‘both depth and breadth’ and ‘a consistent track record of providing high quality representation.’” 

We have extensive experience in the following areas of Environmental law:

Litigation and Enforcement

Compliance, Permitting and Counseling

Due Diligence

Litigation and Enforcement
No matter the court or forum, Mayer Brown is renowned for protecting our environmental clients’ interests. We have represented clients in trial and appellate courts throughout the United States, Europe and Asia and before domestic and international alternative dispute resolution forums. Our litigation approach combines aggressive representation at trial, effective argument on appeal and skilled negotiation to achieve competitive goals. The same skills enable us to represent clients effectively in contested hearings for air, water and waste permits, as well as in US EPA enforcement and rulemaking proceedings.

Similarly, our preeminent Supreme Court & Appellate lawyers are highly experienced at handling environmental cases in the US Supreme Court and all other federal circuit courts. Most recently, we obtained certiorari over the United States’ opposition in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense and prevailed 9-0 on the merits on the issue of where challenges to the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule may be litigated. Notably, the case was featured in Law360’s “Biggest Environmental Rulings of 2018.” The unparalleled volume of our environmental-related appellate experience ensures effective and efficient counsel for clients at every level of the appellate process.

Unlike many competitors who use general litigators for environmental work, Mayer Brown has dedicated environmental litigators who work almost exclusively on environmental cases, leading to a greater technical understanding of the law and issues involved in each case. Clients have noted that this model significantly reduces learning curves and expenses.

We have significant experience handling important cases in US venues that are among the nation’s most hostile to defendants, including: St. Louis, Missouri; Madison, St. Clair and Cook County, Illinois; Michigan; Brazoria County, Texas; West Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Atlantic City, New Jersey; New Orleans, Louisiana; and the California Bay Area.

We also draw on our network of many of the world’s leading experts in fields relevant to environmental law, including geologists, hydrologists, toxicologists, pathologists, microbiologists and engineers in order to better identify and attack “junk science” claims and thereby counter plaintiffs who seek to take advantage of gaps in the scientific literature.

Compliance, Permitting and Counseling

Our environmental lawyers are experienced in all aspects of environmental compliance, permitting and enforcement counseling. We regularly work with clients to obtain and revise environmental permits and to comply with federal laws including the Clean Air Act (including Title V permits); Clean Water Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); Toxic Substances Control Act; and other environmental statutes. Our lawyers have successfully handled many permit appeals and challenges to agency actions.

We have the necessary skills to handle the most complex regulatory regimes. Clients with Clean Water Act concerns rely on our guidance concerning standards for national pollutant and discharge elimination (NPDES), wetlands and storm water permitting, and total maximum daily loads appeals and enforcement. Similarly, we represent clients who may be potentially responsible parties—whether lone, primary or de minimis—at significant hazardous waste sites. Our work includes all aspects of CERCLA enforcement (requests for information, access and investigation), cost recovery, contribution (statutory and contractual) and redevelopment.

Forward-looking environmental counseling is an important part of our work. Mayer Brown lawyers have been actively involved in developing and amending key state and federal regulatory programs. We also work closely with clients to plan for and minimize the many environmental permitting and regulatory compliance issues that may be triggered under the National Environmental Policy Act by new construction or operational changes at manufacturing and utility facilities.

We help clients adapt to evolving regulatory frameworks, particularly as concerns over global warming spur carbon emissions controls at the state and federal levels. Our team works with clients to develop policies on the legal aspects of climate change, including emissions trading, climate change levy agreements and compliance with greenhouse gas permits within the European Union and other jurisdictions.

Due Diligence
Our lawyers prevent environmental liability issues from becoming major concerns when assets, real estate, businesses or companies are bought or sold. We advise on hundreds of deals annually, performing environmental due diligence on both domestic and international transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, lending and financing ventures that raise environmental concerns. 

We identify potential environmental liabilities in corporate transactions, then structure and document the transactions in a way that protects our clients while ensuring completion of the transaction. In real estate transactions, our lawyers work with environmental consultants, review Phase I and Phase II reports on prior or current contamination from operations, negotiate the environmental portion of the deal and help secure environmental insurance. For brownfield sites, our lawyers help evaluate the nature and extent of the contamination, estimate the cost of remediation and define the potential return if remediated. If the project proceeds, we coordinate with developers, environmental consultants, lenders, insurance providers, regulatory agencies and other legal counsel to create a legal strategy that provides the greatest return and protection for our clients.

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