Michael
Lesser

Of Counsel

Michael
Lesser

Of Counsel

Mike retired in 2010 from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) after over twenty years of service, most recently in NYSDEC’s Albany headquarters. There he was the Supervising Attorney for the state’s Superfund and Brownfields Cleanup Programs, responsible for the state’s legal representation for hazardous waste, brownfield, voluntary cleanup program (VCP) and environmental restoration sites in all parts of New York. Mike also previously served as the supervisor of NYSDEC’s Brownfield and Superfund Enforcement Unit for Central and Southern New York, with similar legal responsibilities and as the NYSDEC’s VCP program counsel. Today he is based in Albany and serves clients in the areas of brownfield redevelopment, state superfund and hazardous waste remediation and enforcement.

In those capacities, he drafted or reviewed hundreds of the agreements, cost recovery settlements enforcement orders on consent and other legal instruments necessary to remediate contaminated sites around the state. He also represented and served as an advisor to the professionals in the NYSDEC Division of Environmental Remediation (engineers, geologists, field inspectors, etc.).

From 1989 to 1992, and from 2003 and 2005, Mike was also the counsel for the NYSDEC’s Division of Law Enforcement (DLE), where he advised and performed legal duties representing the department’s police agencies and their various units. These included the uniformed Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO), the plainclothes investigators of the Bureau of Environmental Conservation Investigations (BECI) and the Forest Rangers. In that capacity, Mike frequently worked and coordinated with other parts of the NYSDEC, other state agencies, federal agencies and state and local prosecutors in the development and prosecution of environmental crimes and administrative enforcement.

While at NYSDEC, he was also a frequent advisor to the NYSDEC executive staff and General Counsel on topics as diverse as enforcement, field investigations, site access, FOIL, discovery, ethics and administrative procedures.

Mike is a frequent contributor to the SPR blog and also writes and edits the monthly NY Environmental Enforcement Update for Envirosphere, the official blog of the Environmental Section of the New York State Bar Association.

New York State Bar Association Award for Distinguished Service to Environmental Law

“The Sewage Pollution Right to Know Act: Another Regulatory Requirement for POTW Operators”

For: Municipal Lawyer, Vol. 27, No. 1, New York State Bar Association

Winter/Spring 2013

“Summary of New York State Voluntary Clean Up Agreements,” co-author (periodic summaries and commentary on developments regarding the cleanup of contaminated development sites)

For: The New York Environmental Lawyer, New York State Bar Association

1996-2000

“Administrative Enforcement for Inactive Hazardous Waste Sites, Administrative Practice Before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation”

For: Course text for New York State Bar Association continuing legal educational and distributed as a course material for environmental law studies at Albany Law School

May, 1998

Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, J.D., 1987, Top 10% of Class and Dean’s List 5 semesters, Award for Special Service to the Law School, Law Center Disciplinary Board, Student Representative

Hofstra University, B.A. Political Science, minor in mathematics, 1978

United States Military Academy, 1974-1976

Officer/Member, Executive Board, Environmental Section of the New York State Bar Association, 1997 to Present

Co-Chair, Legislative Committee, Environmental Section of the New York State Bar Association

Moderator of the annual New York State Bar Association Environmental Legislative Forum, 2004 to 2012

Presenter-Lecturer, numerous New York State Bar Association CLE Programs, 1995-Present