Chris Locke, a senior partner and former chair of the environmental law practice at Farella, has more than 30 years of experience counseling and representing clients in all aspects of environmental law, environmental litigation, and enforcement defense. He is a Fellow of the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), a former Director of the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), and is recognized by Chambers USA as a leading California lawyer in environmental law.

Chris’ practice includes defense of federal and state enforcement actions, representation in actions involving CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other federal and state statutory and common law claims, as well as cost recovery litigation and citizen suit defense. An accomplished trial attorney and legal strategist, Chris also assists clients with regulatory compliance, permitting and representation, project development strategies, and NEPA/CEQA/land use proceedings and related litigation.

Drawing on his experience as a former federal prosecutor, Chris’ practice includes internal investigations, grand jury representation, and defense of criminal enforcement actions. He is also a member of the firm's Product Law practice, emphasizing product liability defense, class action defense, product stewardship, and sustainability.

Chris’ clients span a broad range of representation of both public and private interests, including energy, manufacturing, mining, real estate development, scientific research, technology, telecommunications, transportation, and wine businesses.

Chris has been recognized by clients for his strategic approach, whether in trial or appellate courts, regulatory or land use proceedings, or long-term business planning and risk management. He is described by clients as an exceptional litigator and strategist, and has been commended for his skill and efficiency in understanding and achieving a client’s goals.

Chris began his career as a Legislative Assistant to then-Congressman Christopher Dodd, and as a Research Analyst/Investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Assassinations. Prior to private practice, Chris served as a Trial Attorney with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Chris is a frequent lecturer and author on developments in environmental law, renewable energy, criminal enforcement and defense, trial strategy and evidence. He is also a former co-chair of Farella’s Diversity Committee, a former Director of Legal Aid of Marin, and a member of ELI’s Leadership Council.


  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers (2017-present)
  • Chambers USA as a leading lawyer in environmental law in California (2011-present)
  • Best Lawyers in America (Environmental Law and Litigation – Environmental)
  • Who's Who Legal
  • Northern California Super Lawyers (2004-2008, 2010-present)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Member, Leadership Council, Environmental Law Institute (2002-present)
  • Section on Energy, Environment and Resources, American Bar Association
  • Environmental Litigation Committee, Section on Litigation, American Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association, San Francisco Chapter
  • Member, Board of Directors, Marin County Bar Association (2020-present)
  • Member and Past President, Board of Directors, Legal Aid of Marin (1996-2003, 2010-2017)
  • Member, Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Environmental Law Institute (2002-2010)
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California (1983-1986)
  • Trial Attorney, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice (1981-1983)
  • Research Analyst/Investigator, Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives (1976-1978) 
  • Legislative Assistant, Congressman Christopher J. Dodd, U.S. House of Representatives (1975-1976)

Firm Highlights


Farella COVID-19 Update: A Message From the Managing Partner

To our clients, alumni and friends, During these unsettling times, Farella Braun + Martel is focused on protecting the health and safety of our firm members, clients, and communities and doing our part to...

Read More

Coronavirus Was Unexpected, but Is It Force Majeure? (Webinar)

Join speakers, Matt Lewis and Janice Reicher, on the webinar discussing "Coronavirus Was Unexpected, but Is It Force Majeure?"

Read More

Daily Journal Names Farella Lawyers Among Top IP Lawyers in California

Farella Braun + Martel is proud to announce that partners Jeffrey M. Fisher and James L. Day were named to the 2020 list of “Top Intellectual Property Lawyers” in California by the Daily Journal...

Read More

CARES Act Money for Wineries?

Beginning tomorrow morning, April 3 rd , the Small Business Administration will begin accepting applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans under the new CARES Act. Amid the flurry of news, small winery owners may...

Read More

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Insights and Resources

The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing disruption throughout the US that we have not seen in generations. Governmental entities, academia, and the private sector are working diligently to contain COVID-19 while it...

Read More

Wine Businesses, Lenders, and Difficult Conversations

The COVID-19 pandemic and public health efforts to combat it will impact different wine businesses in different ways. Those that depend on on-premise and direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, such as restaurant, hospitality, and tasting room...

Read More

Insurers Brace for Coronavirus Hit to ‘Event Driven’ D&O Line

Mary McCutcheon was quote in the Claims Journal article,"Insurers Brace for Coronavirus Hit to ‘Event Driven’ D&O Line." Link to read the full article .

Read More

CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program Summary (Updated)

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was signed into law (the full 880-page text of the CARES Act is available here ). One feature of the CARES...

Read More

Farella Advises on Sale of Diamond Creek Winery to Maison Louis Roederer

SAN FRANCISCO/ST. HELENA, March 16, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel represented the family of the late Boots Brounstein on the sale of their Diamond Creek Winery in Calistoga, Calf. to French Champagne producer Maison...

Read More

7th Annual Partner Compensation One-Day Workshop

Brian Donnelly is presenting the case study session, "Managing Partner Performance" at Fairfax Associates' 7th Annual Partner Compensation One-Day Workshop. Click here for more information.

Read More