Michelle works extensively on environmental, natural resource, real estate, and regulatory matters involving contaminated real property, environmental defense, and regulatory and permitting compliance. She represents a wide range of commercial, industrial, and maritime clients, from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and individual property owners. She has extensive experience working on complex, multi-party, federal and state Superfund sites across the nation involving claims arising under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and its state law equivalents. Michelle represents potentially responsible parties in private, non-judicial liability allocations, contribution and cost recovery actions, and natural resource damage claims involving multimillion dollar disputes. She also negotiates administrative orders and consent decrees with federal and state agencies, and works with clients to manage environmental risks.
Michelle assists clients with regulatory compliance and solid waste management issues arising under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), including corrective actions, consent orders, and financial assurance, and the cost-effective redevelopment of Brownfields properties with complex legal and technical challenges. She also assists clients with matters arising under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) regulations. As part of her practice, Michelle has counseled Native American tribes on environmental matters arising under federal, state, and tribal laws, the implementation and enforcement of tribal regulations and regulatory programs, the redevelopment of contaminated tribal properties, and environmental risk management.
Before she became an attorney, Michelle spent eight years as a federal contractor supporting the U.S. Department of Energy in Las Vegas, Nevada, first as a senior environmental policy advisor on the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project, and then as a public affairs manager with the Nevada Test Site’s Environmental Management Program.
- Serves as outside environmental counsel to publicly-traded corporations, multi-state companies, and small businesses.
- Assists clients in assessing environmental liabilities, developing legal and technical strategies for addressing contaminated properties, conducting environmental investigations, implementing cleanup actions, pursuing liable parties and cost recovery claims, and resolving environmental disputes.
- Represents clients in the allocation of liability among private parties and government entities at legacy sites involving historical contamination.
- Settles environmental claims by negotiating enforcement orders, agreed orders and consent decrees with federal and state regulators, and cash-out contracts and settlement agreements with potentially responsible parties.
- Assists clients who receive Notices of Violation (NOVs) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state and local governments arising under federal, state, and local laws, regulations, ordinances, and administrative rules.
- Represented Canadian provinces in cross-border challenges involving federal water supply projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal and international laws.
- Successfully appealed an NOV issued by Washington’s State Department of Labor & Industries for an industrial facility.
- Challenged an agency rulemaking associated with a state’s repeal and adoption of new flood hazards area control act regulations.
Member, King County Bar Association (KCBA)
Member, Washington State Bar Association (WSBA)
Member, Northwest Indian Bar Association
Member, American Bar Association (ABA)
Admitted, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- Co-President, Board of Directors, Ballard Alliance (2017–Present)
- Member, Ratepayer Advisory Board, Ballard Business Improvement Area (2017–Present)
- Membership Vice-Chair, Superfund and Natural Resource Damages Litigation Committee, ABA SEER (2010–2013)
- Executive Committee, Women in Environment (2010–2013)
- Board Member, Ballard Chamber of Commerce (2006–2016); President (2010–2012); Ex Officio Member (2006–2016)
- Executive Committee, Ballard District Council (2008–2013)
- Chair, KCBA Environmental Law & Land Use Section (2010–2011); Vice-Chair (2009); CLE/Speaker Chair (2008); Treasurer (2007); Secretary (2006)
- Chair, Ballard SeafoodFest, SEAFAIR community event (2005–2009)
- Reporter, Environmental Enforcement and Crimes Committee Newsletter, Region 10, ABA SEER (2005–2007)
- Board Member, Showtunes Theatre Company (2005–2007)
- Member, Las Vegas Race for the Cure (1997–2001); Advisor (2000); Chair (1999); Director (1998)
- Graduate, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Las Vegas Program (1997)
Articles and Presentations
- Presenter, Science of Superfund Cost Allocation, ABA SEER (2017).
- Presenter, Burlington Northern: Changing the Legal Landscape under Superfund, KCBA Environmental and Land Use Section CLE (2009).
- Presenter, Working Effectively with Tribal Governments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Damages Training Course (2008).
- Presenter, Easements and Other Interests in Real Property, Law of Easements: Legal Issues and Practical Considerations, KCBA CLE (2008).
- Presenter, Easements and Other Interests in Real Property, Law of Easements: Legal Issues and Practical Considerations, KCBA CLE (2007).
- Author, Brownfields Response Programs in Indian Country: Protecting the Reservation Environment, Environmental Transactions and Brownfields Newsletter, ABA SEER, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2006).
- Co-Author, CERCLA and Transboundary Contamination in the Columbia River, Natural Resources & Environment, ABA SEER, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2006).
- Co-Author, Upper Columbia River Contamination – A Transboundary Application of CERCLA, Pakootas v. TCM Metals, Ltd., The Water Report (2005).
Honors and Recognition
Named to the 2023 Best Lawyers in America list for Environmental and Natural Resources
Top Women Attorney in Washington, Washington Law & Politics magazine (2016–Present)
Super Lawyer®, Super Lawyers and Washington Law & Politics magazine (2014–Present)
Client Choice Award, Environment & Climate Change – State of Washington (2015)
Rising Star®, Super Lawyers and Washington Law & Politics magazine (2010–2013)
Rated 10.0 by Avvo, the leading lawyer-rating website
J.D., cum laude, Washington and Lee University School of Law (2004)
M.P.P., Environmental Policy, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies (1993)
B.A., University of California Los Angeles (1990)
Michelle grew up in Southern California, lived in Italy for two years, and after completing graduate school in Chicago, spent eight years in Las Vegas working on environmental policy issues. Realizing one day that she was too young to be so bored, she decided to change careers and headed off to law school. When not dealing with dirty dirt, Michelle enjoys spending time with friends, hiking, traveling, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their furry four-legged kids.