LAURENCE KIRSCH is a partner in the Environmental practice group who focuses on environmental negotiation and litigation, emphasizing large contaminated sites, sediment sites and complex environmental enforcement proceedings. Mr. Kirsch brings his combined background in science and law to his practice which includes matters that have involved air, surface water, groundwater, hazardous waste, sediments, toxic substances regulation and indoor air quality, among other issues.
Mr. Kirsch has litigated and counseled clients on matters involving the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), SARA Title III (TRI), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act and related state statutes.
In addition, Mr. Kirsch has considerable experience on matters involving the interface between environmental laws and bankruptcy. Among other things, prior to joining Sidley, he litigated the first estimation proceeding ever conducted of a federal CERCLA claim in a bankruptcy proceeding, resulting in a no liability ruling for the debtor on an $80 million claim by the United States. As part of that same bankruptcy proceeding, he also participated in the creation of the first environmental remediation trust used in a Chapter 11 proceeding to take and hold title to contaminated property, allowing debtors to reorganize successfully. As part of his work on environmental bankruptcies, he has litigated and negotiated a number of key issues concerning how environmental obligations are addressed in bankruptcy proceedings.
Mr. Kirsch has performed numerous environmental reviews of individual plants in approximately 30 states throughout the country and in Canada, and for several major corporations, has performed environmental reviews of every one of their corporate plants. He works with clients in developing responses to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requests for information under the different environmental statutes. Using his science background, Mr. Kirsch has worked extensively with technical experts (including air, water, epidemiological, toxicological and risk assessment experts) in ensuring that their reports and testimony are both understandable and laser focused on meeting the client’s needs.
Mr. Kirsch also advises businesses including major financial institutions on the environmental implications of real estate and corporate organizations and transactions, including securitizations. For example, he advised on environmental aspects of a $1.9 billion securitization involving hundreds of properties, then the largest commercial mortgage securitization in U.S. history. Mr. Kirsch has performed environmental due diligence and negotiated deal terms on M&A and lending transactions.
Mr. Kirsch has been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and Best Lawyers. He is also listed among the 2023 Lawdragon “Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law.” While attending law school, he served as managing editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review. Mr. Kirsch has been elected to the Environmental Law Institute’s Leadership Council, the Institute’s group of the most prominent environment, energy and natural resource leaders in the nation.