Biography

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 Environment 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.

Distinctions

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

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 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

Publication

Individual Accountability in the Huawei Trade Secrets Prosecution

In the ongoing legal battle over the alleged theft of American trade secrets by Chinese telecom giant Huawei, one curious aspect is the lack of charges filed against any individual Huawei employees. On February...

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Named Among the Best Places to Work in the Bay Area 2019

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Publication

Attorney General Finds Impact Fees on Density Bonus Projects Invalid

In response to questions from a variety of cities across the state regarding the application of “public benefit fees” to density bonus projects, the State Attorney General’s Office published an opinion on April 9...

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News

How to Plan for a Smooth Transition of Your Family Business

Family Wealth Senior Associate Lauren Galbraith discusses how family internal dynamics play a role in transferring significant assets, especially a business, between generations. Link to read the full article.

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Publication

Who 'Owns' a Secret? Whether Trade Secret Licensees Have Standing to Sue in California

If the eye-popping damages awards in several recent lawsuits are any indication, companies are increasingly coming to see their private information as one of their most valuable assets—and California juries apparently agree. For example,...

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Event

North Coast Cannabis Industry Conference

Farella Braun + Martel is proud to underwrite the North Coast Cannabis Industry Conference featuring keynote speaker Aaron Smith, co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. The event will also feature...

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Event

Identifying and Preparing Expert Witnesses for Trial

How do you identify the key experts you need for trial? Once you have them, what are the best practices for preparing them for trial? How do these practices vary depending on your venue, and...

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Publication

The 10th Circuit Correctly Construes “That Particular Part” Narrowly

We do not often write about coverage opinions from jurisdictions as far away as Oklahoma; however, a recent case from the Federal Tenth Circuit looked at one of our favorite topics and came out...

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News

Last Major SF Transbay Tower, Affordable Housing at Risk of Delays

Real Estate/Land Use and Development Partner Charles (C.J.) Higley shares his thoughts on why the 546 Howard St. tower project deserves priority for approval. Read the full article here .

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Event

CWA Regulation of Discharges to Groundwater: Permitting Uncertainty in Light of Circuit Court Split

Sarah Bell will speak on the Strafford live webinar, "CWA Regulation of Discharges to Groundwater: Permitting Uncertainty in Light of Circuit Court Split." This CLE webinar will discuss the "indirect discharge" theory of Clean...

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