Van Ness Feldman LLP

THE SCOOP

Van Ness Feldman's seat in the nation's capital gives it prime access to the governmental, regulatory, and compliance aspects of environmental and energy law. Combined with its Pacific Northwest presence in Seattle, this energy boutique is a formidable force to be reckoned with.

DC Origins and Seattle Merger

From its beginnings, Van Ness Feldman was destined to be a major DC player. The firm was founded in 1977 by four staff members of Congressional and Executive branches: William Van Ness, Jr., Howard Feldman, Lynn Sutcliffe and Charlie Curtis. Originally known as Van Ness, Feldman, Curtis and Sutcliffe, the firm retains the names of the two out of four founders who remained with the firm: Van Ness, an environmental lawyer and former Chief Counsel to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Feldman, onetime Chief Counsel to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. The firm is proud to count U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew among its alums; Lew was a partner from 1988 to 1993. The firm most recently continued its streak of federal liaisons with the addition of Former Congressman Norm Dicks. Dicks represented Washington State in the House of Representatives for 36 years and joined Van Ness Feldman in May 2013 as Senior Policy Counsel. Dicks' longtime aide LaTasha Wortham also joined the firm at that time and serves as its Governmental Issues Director.

In 1989, the firm opened an additional office in Seattle when founder Van Ness, a native of Washington State, decided to return there. The firm's Seattle presence grew with a February 2012 merger with GordonDerr LLP, a small but well-known Seattle firm focusing on real estate, civil litigation, land use and water law.  

Energy and Environmental Powerhouse

Van Ness Feldman has racked up an impressive amount of accolades in a relatively short amount of time. Deemed "the best energy boutique in the USA" by Chambers, the firm has received global, national and local recognition by the prestigious publication. Additionally, the firm houses 31 "Best Lawyers in America" and 24 Super Lawyers, is one of two top-tier firms in Energy: Transaction & Regulatory Environment: Transaction & Regulatory areas according to Legal 500 and was named a top firm in the U.S. for emissions trading markets by Environmental Finance.

Van Ness is home to one of the largest gas and electric practices in the country and was one of the first firms to have major climate change and gas emission regulatory practices. The firm helps clients like Toyota North America Inc., American Electric Power Inc., Puget Sound Energy Inc., Air Products & Chemicals Inc., U.S. Green Building Council, the University of Washington and Houston natural gas energy company Kinder Morgan Inc. navigate the ins and outs of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency compliance, among others.

Novelty on Land or in Water-Amphibious Vehicles

Until the days of Jetsons flying cars inevitably come, Van Ness Feldman can at least brag that it was part of the aquatic car movement. The firm helped Gibbs Technologies, a novel sports vehicles manufacturer exclusively devoted to developing amphibious vehicles, achieve marine vehicle classification for two of its new products in order to comply with EPA emission standards. The vehicles-the Quadski, a high-speed all-terrain vehicle, and the Phibian, a larger "amphitruck"- were both profiled in the New York Times.  

Redefining the Clean Water Act

Van Ness wrote a key amicus brief on behalf of the hydroelectric industry in the Supreme Court case Los Angeles Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (2013), which redefined the Clean Water Act. The case began when theNRDC sued the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, charging that the pollutants released by its municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) were in violation of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit regulations. On appeal, the Supreme Court overturned the previous Ninth Circuit Court ruling and affirmed the position advocated by Van Ness Feldman, declaring that hydropower dams are not necessarily under NPDES permit jurisdiction.

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Van Ness Feldman LLP


1050 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW
Seventh Floor
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202-298-1800
Fax: 202-338-2416
www.vnf.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman: Richard Agnew
  • Hiring Attorney: Britt Fleming
  • Total No. Attorneys 2013: 77

  • Employment Contact

    DiNoua Avery
    Recruiting Coordinator
    dnm@vnf.com


  • Base Salary

    Firm did not disclose salary information.


  • Major Departments & Practices

    Energy:
    Coal
    Efficiency
    Electric
    Hydropower
    Nuclear
    Pipeline & LNG
    Renewables
    Environment:
    Air
    Climate Change
    Endangered Species
    NEPA/SEPA
    Public Lands, Oceans and Parks
    Waste
    Water Quality and Wetlands
    Water Resources
    Real Estate/Land Use:
    Financing
    Land Use
    Land Use Planning
    Leasing
    Real Estate
    Government Relations:
    Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Policy
    Federal Funding
    Health Care
    Tax Policy
    Transportation and Infrastructure

Major Office Locations

  • Washington, DC
  • Seattle, WA

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