About Lily N. Chinn

Lily Chinn, managing partner of the San Francisco Bay Area office, offers a rare and valuable skill set to businesses facing high-stakes examinations of their environmental and workplace safety practices. In agency enforcement actions, litigation and investigations, Lily's clients benefit from her years of experience as a US Department of Justice (DOJ) trial attorney in environmental and criminal matters. Using her familiarity with government decision-making processes, she has helped clients avoid criminal and civil charges and reach favorable settlements with government authorities and private parties.

Insight and practical solutions for a complex environmental landscape

Lily understands the threat that a criminal investigation or civil enforcement proceeding poses to a company's operations. These sensitive matters require informed responses that anticipate repercussions ahead. With eight years of government experience in environmental enforcement and white-collar investigations and over 10 years in private practice, Lily crafts strategies that are grounded in substantive, technical knowledge, while pointing to practical solutions that are persuasive to regulatory agencies.

Lily has represented clients investigated by the DOJ, the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and various state attorneys general and regulatory agencies. As a trial lawyer in the DOJ's Environmental Defense Section and in private practice, she has litigated cases in courtrooms across the country. Her experience as a DOJ attorney litigating Superfund, wetlands and other pollution-related matters has given her invaluable insight into agency approaches to environmental disputes.

In past cases, Lily’s defense strategies have led the DOJ and FERC to decline to bring criminal or civil charges against her clients. That has been true even when other parties pleaded guilty to multiple counts, as in a matter involving a power plant's alleged emissions tampering and market manipulation. She has also used her industry and legal knowledge to obtain precedential legal rulings. For a client facing charges after a fatal incident on an offshore production platform, she secured the first court ruling that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act regulations do not allow for criminal charges against independent contractors.

Lily also brings her clients technical acumen in litigation itself. Drawing on her experience as a prosecutor in the DOJ's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section, she advises on best practices in preserving, collecting and producing electronic information. Lily was a founding co-chair of the DOJ's Environment Division's E-Discovery Working Group and now co-chairs Katten's Electronic Discovery and Information Governance Practice.

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Practice Focus

  • Representation in court or before regulatory agencies in environmental and safety matters and related suspension and debarment proceedings
  • Major accident and incident response and communication
  • Internal investigations
  • Counseling on regulatory compliance and preventive measures
  • Government monitorships focused on environmental or safety compliance
  • Complex electronic information and discovery issues

Representative Experience

  • Represented a leading independent provider of services to the global power generation industry before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an investigation involving allegations of market manipulation and fraud in the sale of power to an independent system operator responsible for the operation of a region's electrical power system.
  • Represented a global provider of labor and production services criminally charged in a multi-fatality incident on an oil and gas production platform.
  • Represent an energy company in a civil enforcement action involving alleged violations of state air emission regulations.
  • Represented an international oil and gas services company in Suspension & Debarment proceedings before federal agencies relating to potential disqualification from participation in federal contracts and related subcontracts.
  • While at the DOJ, defended federal agency actions including Clean Air Act rulemakings, Clean Water Act permits, and federal contributions to cleanups under RCRA and CERCLA. *
  • While at the DOJ, defended various military agencies at trial against a $300 million citizen suit claim under RCRA and contribution claim under CERCLA.
  • Defend multiple RCRA citizen suit claims involving contaminated properties against a number of federal agencies through summary judgment motions or settlements, involving sites with soil and groundwater contamination.
  • Represent an oil and gas company under investigation for violations of state and federal statutes related to impacts on migratory birds.
  • Defended a national chemical manufacturer in a six-month toxic tort jury trial and a three-week cost recovery bench trial involving groundwater contamination. Obtained defense victory.
  • Represent farmers in California's Central Valley seeking just compensation from the United States as part of class action takings claim.
  • Defend a Class I railroad in a statewide Clean Water Act citizen suit alleging unpermitted discharges of coal from railcars to the waters in Washington State.
  • While at the DOJ, prosecuted Clean Water Act violations in California and Florida on behalf of the United States.
  • Represented a national solid waste company in successful challenge of a Solano County ordinance that illegally restricted the flow of solid waste in violation of the US and California Constitutions.
  • Defend corporate and individual clients facing civil and criminal investigation for a variety of environmental and natural resource issues.
  • Defend federal agencies and corporate clients facing Clean Water Act enforcement actions by citizen groups.
* Experience prior to Katten