Environmental Law

Environmental Law Division attorneys represent the City and its agencies in an extensive range of environmental matters, including land use and environmental review of City projects and private development; wastewater and stormwater treatment and compliance; Clean Air Act compliance and enforcement; solid and hazardous waste management; parks and natural resources preservation (including public trust issues and wetlands protection and remediation); sustainability and resilience issues; energy development; and harbor navigation and dredging. The Division also works on numerous matters concerning the City’s water supply system, relating to both system operations and protecting water quality. Division attorneys litigate in State and federal courts; represent the City in administrative and legislative hearings; and counsel agencies on their environmental programs, policies, and compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

What New Attorneys Do

New attorneys draft briefs, affidavits, and other legal papers for State and federal environmental litigation, under the supervision of senior attorneys. New attorneys also attend court conferences and hearings, and may argue motions in court. Administrative proceedings before the Environmental Control Board are handled by new attorneys, with minimal supervision from senior attorneys. In addition, new attorneys help counsel client agencies on regulatory compliance and participate in complex negotiations with state and federal regulatory agencies by conducting legal and factual research; drafting and reviewing correspondence; and assisting in managing and coordinating agency action. Finally, new attorneys may also assist in various other types of matters, such as intra- and inter-agency policy negotiations, commenting on proposed federal or State regulations, or management of the City’s potential Superfund liabilities.

What Summer Interns Do

Working closely with lawyers in the Division, interns in Environmental Law will be exposed to a broad range of municipal environmental issues. Interns will typically write two to four legal research memoranda on environmental, land use and energy law matters which are used in providing advice to client agencies. Research projects from past summers include analyzing federal requirements governing PCBs in public buildings, State/EPA authority to regulate certain wastewater discharges under the federal Clean Water Act, and the City’s liability for clean-up of contamination in the Gowanus Canal under the federal Superfund law. Students also draft affidavits and sections of briefs in State and federal court litigation and administrative proceedings. Interns attend and participate in meetings and attend court appearances. The Division generally takes two interns each summer, usually first year students.

Read the Law Department's Annual Reports for More Information about the Environmental Law Division