Lawson Fite is the co-chair of Marten Law’s Natural Resources practice. For over 15 years, Lawson has successfully represented clients in energy, agriculture, forestry, and shipping, in both regulatory and litigation matters. 

Lawson draws on a wealth of experience to address clients’ practical, bottom-line business needs. Lawson has worked in private practice and for several years directed the work of a trade association in more than 50 cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He has testified before Congress regarding proposed reforms to resource management, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Lawson works with industry stakeholders across North America to improve the federal, state, and local regulatory environment. He has served as the voice of natural resource users before the United States Supreme Court in the recent cases of Fish & Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club and Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, where he was the lead author of coalition amicus briefs before the Court. 

Lawson began his career at the US Department of Justice with a focus on endangered species and wildlife issues. Lawson received a Special Achievement Award in 2009 from US Attorney General Eric H. Holder. He also represented the US Coast Guard in litigation relating to the response to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Lawson served as a law clerk for Justice Walter L. Carpeneti of the Alaska Supreme Court. He earned a J.D. degree and an A.B. (cum laude) in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University.

Experience with:

  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA)
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA)
  • National Forest Management Act (NFMA)
  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act
  • Federal Land Policy & Management Act (FLPMA)
  • Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA)
  • Oil Pollution Act (OPA)
  • Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • Oregon & California Railroad & Coos Bay Wagon Road Lands Act (O&C Act)
  • Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)
  • Wild & Free-Roaming Horses & Burros Act (WHBA)
  • Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Washington State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
  • Growth Management Act (GMA)
  • Forest Practices Act (FPA)
  • Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • Fish & Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club (U.S. 2020)
  • Amicus brief on behalf of National Association of Home Builders, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Federation of Independent Business, and American Forest Resource Council
  • Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., et al., No. 1:21-cv-11269 (D. Mass.); On behalf of a coalition of gun violence prevention groups, filed amicus brief in D. Mass. regarding public nuisance claims against gun manufacturers and marketers.
  • Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Ass’n (U.S. 2019)
  • Defenders of Wildlife v. US Department of the Interior: Ninth Circuit reversed denial of intervention on behalf of agricultural  coalition defending decision to remove gray wolf from the Endangered Species list.
  • AFRC v. Hammond, 422 F.Supp.3d 184 (D.D.C. 2019)
    First case to invalidate Presidential proclamation under Antiquities Act
  • Center for Biological Diversity v. Ilano, 928 F.3d 774 (9th Cir. 2019)
    Upheld use of Farm Bill categorical exclusion to address insect and disease outbreak
  • Wildlands Defense v. Seesholtz, 755 F. App’x 640 (9th Cir. 2018)
    Affirmed denial of preliminary injunction against post-fire timber harvest
  • Sequoia ForestKeeper v. La Price, 723 F. App’x 481 (9th Cir. 2018); Approved thinning project after 20 years of administrative process and litigation.
  • Carpenters Indus. Council v. Zinke, 854 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2017); Reversed dismissal for lack of standing of challenge to 9.5-million-acre critical habitat designation.
  • Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Peña, 865 F.3d 1211 (9th Cir. 2017); Affirmed denial of injunction against collaborative forest restoration project.
  • Represented Port of Vancouver USA in environmental litigation regarding Vancouver Energy Terminal proposal (Clark County, Wash. Court of Appeals, Wash. Supreme Ct.)
  • Bench trial of conversion claim regarding restaurant equipment. Obtained five-figure judgment in favor of client. (Clark County, Wash.)
  • Successfully represented U.S. Coast Guard in ESA litigation regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response (E.D. La.).
  • Received Special Achievement Award for successful defense of timber salvage project in Daniel Boone National Forest (E.D. Ky.).
  • Represented FEMA in two simultaneous statewide challenges to the administration of the National Flood Insurance Program (D. Ariz., D.N.M.).
Education & Clerkship

  • J.D., Harvard Law School (2005)
  • B.S., Harvard University (2000)
  • Law clerk to the Honorable Justice Walter L. (Bud) Carpeneti, Alaska Supreme Court (2005-06)
Admissions & Memberships

  • Oregon State Bar (2005)
  • Washington State Bar (2012)
  • Montana State Bar (2021)
  • United States District Courts, District of Oregon (2011), Western District of Washington (2012), Eastern District of Washington (2016), District of Columbia (2017), District of Montana (2021)
  • United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington (2013)
  • United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2014), District of Columbia Circuit (2019), Tenth Circuit (2019), Fourth Circuit (2021)
  • United States Supreme Court (2017)
Recognition & Activities

  • Chair, Corporate and Association Counsel Committee, Federal Bar Association
  • Co-Chair, American Bar Association's Endangered Species Committee 
  • Oregon State Bar Environment & Natural Resources Section, Section Chair, 2018; Executive Committee, 2011–19.
  • Federal Bar Association, Vice Chair-Programs, Corporate and Association Counsel Committee, 2018–21. Section programs received 2020 National Award from FBA.
  • Legal Advisory Committee, Western Resources Legal Center, Lewis & Clark Law School.
  • Legal Affairs Committee, California Forestry Association.
  • Legal Committee, Oregon Forest & Industries Council.
Publications & Presentations

  • Public Forests, Public Nuisance? Natural Resources & Environment, Fall 2022.
  • Speaker, Environmental Litigation and Fee Awards (EAJA), Kalispell, MT (2021)
  • Fire Liability Imbalances—An Issue Worth Revisiting?
    35(3) Nat. Res. & Envt. 50 (2021), with David Bechtold.
  • 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 Corps and the Weaponization of Environmental Permit Challenges. Washington Legal Foundation webinar, Sept. 30, 2020.
  • Cowpasture decision upholds integrity of the National Forest System, Trends, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, & Resources, Vol. 52 No. 1 (Sept./Oct. 2020).
  • Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances Are the Next Great Tool for Win-Win Conservation, 35(1) Nat. Res. & Envt. 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 (Rocky Mt. Min. L. Fdn. 2019).
  • The missing piece: Presidential action on monuments highlights congressional abdication of responsibility, Trends, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, & Resources, Vol. 49 No. 4 (Mar./Apr. 2018).
  • Using Post-Fire Timber Salvage to Restore Spotted Owl Habitat, 31(1) Nat. Res. & Envt. 23 (2016).
  • Effectively Resolving Disputes with Citizen Groups, ABA Section on Environment, Energy, & Resources, In-House Counsel Committee Newsletter, August 2014.
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