Jenner & Block

Former US Department of Justice Lead Environmental Lawyer Sam Hirsch Rejoins Jenner & Block in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC – September 12, 2017– Jenner & Block announced today that Sam Hirsch, former acting Assistant Attorney General and principal deputy at the US Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), has rejoined the firm as a partner in the Washington, DC office. Mr. Hirsch will be a member of the firm’s Environmental and Workplace Health and Safety Law, Energy, Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation, and Election Law and Redistricting Practices.  He will also lead the firm’s work involving Indian law. 

“The firm has been handling significant environmental, energy and regulatory matters on behalf of clients for many years,” said Terrence J. Truax, Managing Partner of Jenner & Block. “We are thrilled to welcome back a great colleague in Sam, whose extensive experience handling a broad range of legal, public policy, and administrative issues involving the environment, energy and natural resources complements our growing platform.” 

When he headed ENRD – considered the nation’s largest environmental “law firm” – Mr. Hirsch’s primary responsibility was litigation and policy work relating to the prevention and cleanup of pollution, environmental challenges to federal programs, stewardship of public lands and natural resources, property acquisition, wildlife protection and Indian rights and claims. As Acting Assistant Attorney General and principal deputy, he oversaw the drafting of more than 200 briefs, including more than 40 US Supreme Court cert-stage, merits and amicus briefs, as well as more than 150 appeal-recommendation memos to the Solicitor General. These briefs and memos dealt with cases in all 13 federal circuits and covered nearly the entire range of federal environmental and natural resources statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund), the Oil Pollution Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Lacey Act. 

“I had the privilege of working with Sam before at Jenner & Block, as well as during my time as Associate Attorney General when he served as my Deputy,” said Thomas J. Perrelli, Chair of the Jenner & Block’s Government Controversies and Public Policy Litigation Practice. “Sam is a particularly talented lawyer, whose skill, not only in litigation, but also in resolving problems, is unquestionable. His eight years at the Department have given him a broad and deep knowledge of the environmental and related issues facing a wide range of clients.  I look forward to once again working alongside him.” 

Mr. Hirsch was involved in all phases of the Deepwater Horizon litigation, including helping structure the global settlement, which imposed a $5.5 billion civil penalty on BP, the largest in the history of environmental law, and directed more than $8.1 billion toward restoring damaged natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico. He also drafted portions of BP’s and Transocean’s 2013 criminal plea agreements that created the National Academy of Sciences’ $500 million Gulf Research Program, which funds and conducts studies and projects to enhance oil-system safety, human health, and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other US outer-continental-shelf regions that support oil and gas production. 

“Earlier this year, we announced the formation of our new Energy Law Practice with the addition of several former members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to our team of energy practitioners. Sam’s experience and credentials continue to build upon this strength, and we are excited about how we can serve the needs of clients with significant energy and environmental needs,” said Randall E. Mehrberg, Co-Chair of the firm’s Energy Practice. 

Mr. Hirsch also has extensive experience in Indian law. As the supervisor of ENRD’s Indian Resources Section, Mr. Hirsch oversaw all litigation in which the US sought to protect tribal lands, resources, jurisdiction and treaty rights. He led the Department of Justice’s ground-breaking efforts in working with Native Americans for all eight years of the Obama Administration. In particular, his work to craft and get enacted into law provisions that protect Native American women from domestic violence has earned him wide-ranging praise from women’s groups and tribal governments. 

“I am excited to return to Jenner & Block and be a part of the firm’s growth in the environmental and energy sectors,” said Mr. Hirsch. “And I look forward to working alongside great colleagues and friends to build a premier regulatory litigation practice that matches the firm’s renowned reputation. It is a great privilege to be back at Jenner & Block.”

Mr. Hirsch graduated in 1984 from Rice University and received a J.D. in 1993 from Harvard Law School, where he served as treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. From 1993 to 1994, he clerked for Judge Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.