Lawson Fite

Shareholder

Industry focus

I dig deep into my clients’ business and into the law, to find ‎solutions that work in the field and in the courtroom.‎

How I represent clients at Schwabe

For over 15 years, I have supported clients in the natural resource and energy sectors as they manage the complexities of environmental regulation, compliance, and permitting, as well as related litigation. I have significant experience helping clients navigate the legal intricacies required in renewable energy development, forestland management, and endangered species and public lands concerns. My clients include resource owners, developers, and associations who pursue responsible use of these resources.

I am a seasoned litigator who has argued numerous cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts, including ten cases before the Ninth Circuit. I have also testified before Congress on matters concerning proposed reforms to resource management, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Prior to joining Schwabe, I practiced at a boutique law firm that specializes in environmental, energy, and natural resource issues. I began my legal career at the U.S. Department of Justice working on endangered species and wildlife matters. I also spent a year as a law clerk for the Honorable Justice Walter L. Carpeneti of the Alaska Supreme Court.

Experience

  • Lead author of coalition amicus briefs before the Supreme Court in FWS v. Sierra Club, No. 19-547, and US Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Ass’n, No. 18-1584.
  • Represented participating organization in relation to Deepwater Horizon response.
  • Defeated a request for a temporary restraining order in an antitrust suit relating to government timber.
  • On behalf of a coalition of agricultural groups, successfully appealed the denial of intervention in three related challenges to the decision to de-list the gray wolf under the ESA. The Ninth Circuit reversed in summary order, holding that the district court had abused its discretion.
  • Negotiated a lease for a green hydrogen project on behalf of a major renewable energy developer.
  • Represent claims by logging contractors in Montana & Arizona against the US Forest Service.
  • Represented a Washington public port in major environmental and open meetings litigation; argued and won the case in trial and on appeal.
  • Represented community associations in Florida regarding a major construction project proposed in a sensitive area.
  • Assisted a timberland owner with comments on proposed exclusion of a property from critical habitat designation and amendments to a Habitat Conservation Plan.
  • Submitted an application for sourcing area certification to enable a forestry client to export private timber to Canada.
  • Represented a major Idaho landowner in federal court litigation regarding a land exchange vital to operation of a fertilizer manufacturing facility.
  • Assisted a national solar industry trade group with end-of-life regulation issues for solar panels.
  • Represented a Washington city in the cleanup of a contaminated municipal landfill.
  • Represented dairies in Washington in litigation under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA).
  • Represented a client in the bench trial of a conversion claim regarding restaurant equipment. Obtained a five-figure judgment.
  • Obtained insurance reimbursement of environmental defense costs for a manufacturer under CERCLA.

Education

  • Harvard Law School, Juris Doctor (2005)‎
  • Harvard University, Bachelor of Arts, Environmental Science & Public Policy, ‎cum laude (2000)‎

Admissions

  • Montana State Courts
  • Oregon State Courts
  • Washington State Courts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Tenth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals - Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court - District of Montana
  • U.S. District Court - District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court - District of Western Washington
  • U.S. District Court - Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Memberships

  • Federal Bar Association, Corporate and Association Counsel Committee, Chair (2022–present)
  • American Bar Association, Endangered Species Committee, Section on Environmental, Energy, and Resources, Co-Chair (2022–present)
  • Oregon State Bar, Environmental & Natural Resources Section, Section Chair (2018), Committee Member (2011–2019)
  • Federal Bar Association, Vice Chair-Programs, Corporate and Association Counsel Committee (2018–2021)

Awards

  • Ranked for Oregon Environmental Law, Up and Coming, Chambers USA (2023-2024)
  • Lawdragon Environmental Law 500 (2023)
  • American Bar Association Section on Energy, Environment & Resources, Committee of the Year Award (2023)
  • Federal Bar Association, Corporate and Association Counsel Section 2020 National Award
  • Special Achievement Award from US Attorney General Eric H. Holder (2009)

Additional Publications

  • “Biodiversity Conservation and the Problem of Extraterritoriality,” Natural Resources & Environment, Fall 2023, with Rodolfo Jaffé
  • “Public Forests, Public Nuisance?”Natural Resources & Environment, Fall 2022
  • “Fire Liability Imbalances—An Issue Worth Revisiting?” 35(3) Natural Resources & Environment 50 (2021), with David Bechtold
  • Cowpasturedecision upholds integrity of the National Forest System,” Trends, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, & Resources, Vol. 52 No. 1, September/October 2020
  • “Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances Are the Next Great Tool for Win-Win Conservation,” 35(1) Natural Resources & Environment 32 (2020), with Greg Corbin and Galen Schuler
  • “A Different Kind of ‘Regulatory Taking’: When Does Nonfederal Regulatory Action Cause Take of Listed Species?” Endangered Species and Other Wildlife 5-1, 2019
  • “The missing piece: Presidential action on monuments highlights congressional abdication of responsibility,” Trends, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, & Resources, Vol. 49 No. 4, March/April 2018

Additional Events

  • Panel Chair, “Groundwater Regulation Post-Maui,” American Agricultural Lawyers Association Annual Symposium, November 2023
  • Speaker, “Resource Education & Agriculture Leadership,” Montana State University Extension, Environmental Litigation and Fee Awards (EAJA), , 2021
  • “Conflicts Between Pipelines and Forest Plans—An Unforeseen Complication” ABA SEER Fall Conference, Oct. 19, 2020: Pipe Dream to Transmission Machine: The Regulatory Life of an Interstate Pipeline
  • “Enjoining Nationwide Development: Northern Plains v. Army Corpsand the Weaponization of Environmental Permit Challenges,” Washington Legal Foundation webinar, September 30, 2020

Outside Interests

I enjoy getting outside in Oregon’s special places.

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