Lily N. Chinn

Section Chair - Environmental Safety & Incident Response - West Coast Partner

[email protected]

San Francisco

P: +1.415.291.6214
F: +1.415.291.6314
Lily Chinn

“Lily Chinn is praised by interviewees as a "a top-notch talent who recognizes the issues that will be the key to the resolution of any given matter.” She is a trial attorney notable for her handling of enforcement defense. She also manages incident response.”

Chambers USA 2019

Lily Chinn is a strategic advocate and litigator for her corporate and individual clients, providing counsel on the intersection between workplace safety, environmental and natural resources issues. She focuses on civil and criminal defense, including internal investigations and suspension or debarment proceedings, and has tried cases across the country.

Lily is well-versed in the litigation of complex appellate and district court cases in venues nationwide. She draws on her many years of experience at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., to provide her clients with high-level, thoughtful counsel. Through her work as a trial attorney in the Environmental Defense Section—where she litigated a variety of cases across the country under the federal pollution statutes, including CERCLA actions and wetlands enforcement—she has in-depth knowledge of the decision-making processes at the DOJ, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. As a former prosecutor in the DOJ's Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section and one of the founding co-chairs of the DOJ's Environment Division's E-Discovery Working Group, Lily is also able to provide technologically savvy counsel to her clients on the preservation, collection, production and use of electronic information.

This experience, coupled with the relationships Lily developed during her tenure at the DOJ, provides a highly skilled background as she advises clients facing enforcement actions. Recently, following a five-year joint investigation by the DOJ, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and a State Attorney General's Office, she was granted a declination for her client of all federal criminal and civil charges, and negotiated a favorable civil resolution with the state. In another matter involving a United States Attorney's Office and the Department of the Interior, her legal team filed a pretrial motion, marking the first time a court has held that criminal charges against independent contractors are outside the scope of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

Related Experience

  • Representation of a leading independent provider of services to the global power generation industry before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in connection with 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.
  • Representation of a global provider of labor and production services criminally charged in connection with a multi-fatality incident on an oil and gas production platform.
  • Representation of an energy company in connection with civil enforcement action involving alleged violations of state air emission regulations.
  • Representation of 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.
  • Defense of federal agency actions including Clean Air Act rulemakings, Clean Water Act permits and federal contributions to cleanups under RCRA and CERCLA.
  • Defense of various military agencies at trial against a $300 million citizen suit claim under RCRA and contribution claim under CERCLA. Miami-Dade County, Florida v. United States, 345 F.Supp.2d. 1319 (S.D. Fla. 2004).
  • Defense of 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.
  • Representation of an oil and gas company under investigation for violations of state and federal statutes related to impacts on migratory birds.
  • Defense of a national chemical manufacturer in a six-month toxic tort jury trial and a three-week cost recovery bench trial involving groundwater contamination.
  • Representation of farmers in California's Central Valley seeking just compensation from the United States as part of class action takings claim.
  • Defense of a Class I railroad in a statewide Clean Water Act citizen suit litigation alleging unpermitted discharges of coal from railcars to the waters in Washington State.
  • Prosecution of Clean Water Act violations in California and Florida on behalf of the United States.
  • Representation of a national solid waste company in a successful challenge of a Solano County ordinance that illegally restricted the flow of solid waste in violation of the U.S. and California Constitutions.
  • Defense of corporate and individual clients facing civil and criminal investigation for a variety of environmental and natural resource issues.
  • Defense of federal agencies and corporate clients facing Clean Water Act enforcement actions by citizen groups.

Awards & Community

Recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the "Best Lawyers in Northern California," 2020

Listed in Chambers USA, 2017-2019

Recommended in The Legal 500 U.S., 2015, 2017-2019

Recognized as a Law360 "Rising Star Under 40," 2011

Listed in the The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward White, Inc.) for Litigation-Environmental, 2018-2021

DOJ Intra-division Cooperation Award, 2006

DOJ Individual Outstanding Performance, 2002-2003

DOJ Special Commendations, 2001, 2003-2005


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