As a result of technological advancements and pervasive public awareness, environmental matters have become increasingly complex and high-stakes in the legal world. In addition to traditional environmental concerns, companies today often face novel environmental risks inherent in their businesses and must navigate complicated and evolving environmental requirements. Given intense regulatory and media scrutiny, environmental matters pose risks – and opportunities – that can impact companies’ bottom lines and their reputations.

As an intrinsic and critical component of the firm’s Corporate Department, our environmental practice brings a deep understanding of industry-wide trends and practices that enables us to provide sophisticated yet practical environmental law advice to a broad spectrum of clients worldwide. We regularly represent industry leaders in environmentally sensitive businesses such as oil and gas, mining, energy, chemicals, manufacturing and construction.


  • Chambers USA – Band 1 among New York law firms in Environmental Transactions, 2004-2019
  • Chambers USA – Clients note, "They have incredible experience and depth of resources, and they win clients over with their top-notch service and knowledgeable practitioners."
  • U.S. News & World Report “2017 Best Law Firms” – Recognized as a top Environmental Law firm nationally and in New York City

Areas of Experience

We draw on the wealth of experience and resources of Davis Polk as a whole to craft innovative solutions for the complex and intricate environmental issues that impact our clients.


We develop for our clients practical solutions to environmental issues by, among other things, negotiating tailored contractual protections, structuring transactions to minimize environmental exposure and, when useful, obtaining customized environmental insurance. We perform thorough, targeted and cost-effective environmental due diligence investigations around the world and work with technical consultants to provide our clients with value-added advice and information, including cost estimates for key environmental risks.


We advise investment banks and corporate clients on environmental disclosure matters and SEC reporting requirements in the context of IPOs, debt and equity offerings and mandatory periodic filings of public companies. As a leading authority on public environmental disclosure, we are regularly consulted by clients, as well as the media and peers, on cutting-edge disclosure topics.


In financing transactions, we evaluate environmental risk and negotiate appropriate contractual arrangements. We also advise clients undergoing or financing a bankruptcy or restructuring, or acquiring entities or assets out of bankruptcy, where environmental liabilities and regulation often present complex legal and transactional issues.


We negotiate for extensive environmental diligence rights and work closely with technical consultants who thoroughly investigate environmental site conditions. In real estate transactions, environmental diligence can be critically important to valuation and other risk allocation issues. We negotiate appropriate related contractual and/or insurance protections.


In addition to transactional work, we also advise our clients on a variety of other environmental matters, which has included counseling on corporate governance concerns, developing environmental policies and advising on sustainability issues and emerging regulatory requirements.


Our climate change practice has naturally evolved from our years of counseling businesses on environmental matters. With a strong grounding in traditional environmental law and careful attention to the constant stream of new regulatory developments, we are well-positioned to address climate change issues in all areas of our practice. Our work has included crafting climate change disclosure for companies in affected industries, counseling buyers on the implications of climate change regulation for target companies, advising clients on obtaining and trading greenhouse gas emissions offsets and providing regulatory advice in connection with emissions trading and related derivative products.

Our alternative energy practice collaborates with all of our major practice areas (M&A, capital markets, derivatives, tax, commercial and project financings, etc.) to help clients navigate the environmental issues inherent in solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, biofuel and other alternative energy businesses.


We help our clients consider regulatory issues and environmental statutes impacting their business in the context of transactions, particularly in the industrial, power and oil and gas sectors. We are well-versed in chemical and hazardous waste regulations and the:

  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
  • Clean Air Act (CAA)
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Additionally, our lawyers consistently stay abreast of market trends and developments in cutting-edge energy industry concerns such as hydraulic fracturing and alternative energy.


We advise our clients on complicated, cross-border project finance transactions, having worked with environmental lawyers from around the world on matters unique to project finance, such as compliance with the Equator Principles.


We advise clients on their most difficult and challenging environmental disputes. Recent projects have included advising on constitutional, statutory and contractual challenges to allocation of environmental risk among private parties. We have been instrumental in assisting our clients in settling, often on a novel basis, environmental disputes that might significantly affect their operations and bottom line.