Chris Locke, a former chair of the environmental law practice at Farella, has more than 35 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 federal prosecutor 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 member of ELI’s Leadership Council, and was formerly a Director of the Marin County Bar Association, a director of Legal Aid of Marin, and a co-chair of Farella’s Diversity Committee.


  • Chambers USA, Environment - California, Band 3 (2011-2023)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law; Litigation–Environmental; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants (2011-2024)
  • The Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law (2023-2024)
  • Who's Who Legal: Environment (2017-2023)
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, Environmental Litigation (2004-2008, 2010-2023)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers (2017-present)
  • 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
  • Member, Board of Directors, Marin County Bar Association (2020-2022)
  • 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)