• American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Chambers USA 2015
  • Client Choice 2015
  • Best Lawyers - Lawyer of the Year 2014

James A. (Jim) Bruen

  • 415.954.4430
  • |

James A. Bruen has almost 50 years of criminal and civil litigation and business counseling experience.  He is the Immediate Past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, where he also serves as a Counsellor to the President, a Regent of the College, a Member of the Executive Committee, and the Chair of the international pro bono program. He is also President of the newly-formed nonprofit ACOEL Foundation.

In 2018, Mr. Bruen was honored as an environmental “Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal. He is listed as one of the top (Band 1) environmental lawyers in California by the 2018 Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Business Lawyers. He is listed as one of the top environmental experts in the United States in Legal Media Group's 2018 Guide to the World's Leading Lawyers-Best of the Best USA. In 2009, he was designated as one of the nation's 16 "Distinguished Environmental Advocates" by the American Bar Association. 

Mr. Bruen's practice includes representation of industry, universities and governmental institutions in complex domestic and international products and environmental counseling and litigation. He is also a highly regarded expert in product stewardship with wide-ranging experience in product design, manufacturing, distribution and stewardship issues, as well as on plant sitings, plant closures, raw material sourcing, EHS management systems, codes of conduct, effluent guidelines and other sustainable development issues. He coordinates and supervises domestic and international products and environmental litigation. He has served as lead trial counsel (to trial teams and "virtual law firms") in mass tort litigation, natural resource damage litigation, environmental enforcement litigation, environmental cost recovery/contribution litigation and white collar environmental crimes defense. He has extensive experience in leading the successful prosecution or defense of litigation while simultaneously managing confounding regulatory or business matters. He is nationally known for his expertise in emergency response and crisis management. He has been trained as a mediator by the Strauss Institute for Conflict Resolution at Pepperdine University.

Prior to joining Farella, Mr. Bruen was the founding partner of Landels Ripley & Diamond's Environmental Law Department.  Before entering private practice, he served for seven years as a Criminal Division Assistant United States Attorney, a Civil Division Assistant United States Attorney, and Chief of the Civil Division, in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Mr. Bruen is a widely known author and lecturer in environmental and products liability law.  His articles and teaching materials  are in current use by law departments and governmental entities throughout the country. For 2019, Mr. Bruen is listed as a “Thought  Leader”  in Who’s Who Legal: Thought  Leaders – Global Elite.  He is also  named  in The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Environmental Law, Environmental Litigation, Mass Tort Litigation and Natural Resources Law and was named the Best Lawyers 2014 San Francisco Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants “Lawyer of the Year.”  He is the recipient of the 2015 Client Choice Award for Environment & Climate Change for California.  He has been recognized in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, International Corporate Law's Guide to Environmental Law Experts, Practical Law Company's Which Lawyer? Yearbook, Expert Guides' Best of the Best USA, International Who's Who of Environment Lawyers, International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, PLC Cross-Border Environment Handbook, Who's Who Legal USA (Environment), Who's Who Legal California (Environment), and Who's Who in American Law.   


  • President, ACOEL Foundation
  • Immediate Past President and Regent, American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Member, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
  • Member, International Society of Environmental Forensics
  • Master-at-Large, Edward J. McFetridge (San Francisco) Chapter of the American Inn of Court
  • Life Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Former Chief of Civil Division, Office of the United States Attorney, Northern District of California
Farella’s Environmental Law Department is recognized by Chambers USA as a top tier environmental practice in California, and by U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” as a leading firm nationally for its environmental and mass torts practice areas.