With more than 25 years of experience, Don Sobelman focuses his practice on helping clients navigate the complexities of federal and California environmental law. His multifaceted practice encompasses administrative enforcement defense, civil litigation, compliance with regulatory regimes, and contaminated site cleanup and redevelopment.

Don has tackled a diverse range of environmental law matters, including administrative proceedings and civil litigation in trial and appellate courts involving state and federal statutes (such as CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Water Act, and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act); complex environmental/toxic tort litigation; contractual disputes and claims arising from environmental indemnities; compliance with local, state, and federal regulations pertaining to hazardous materials, hazardous waste, water quality, and wetlands; and management of sites requiring investigation, risk assessment, and remediation to address vapor intrusion and soil and groundwater contamination, including from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as PCE and TCE, metals such as lead and hexavalent chromium, PFAS compounds, pesticides, and PCBs.

Don’s practice also routinely involves advising clients on the purchase, sale, and redevelopment of contaminated properties.  He manages all aspects of the environmental due diligence process, negotiates indemnities for environmental liabilities, and assists clients with obtaining insurance coverage for environmental risks.  In addition, Don helps developers navigate the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and land use entitlements process, including with respect to general plan amendments, zoning revisions, and conditional use permits.  He has significant experience as lead counsel in CEQA and land use litigation in both trial and appellate courts.

Don’s clients benefit from his multidisciplinary approach to solving their problems and advancing their goals. By efficiently and effectively collaborating with technical experts and lawyers with relevant specialties, he ensures that his clients obtain the best possible advice when deciding how to address complex environmental issues. 

Active in his community, Don represented pro bono the South Valley Islamic Center (SVIC) in San Martin, California with respect to the CEQA and permit process for SVIC’s Cordoba Center—a 16-acre project including a mosque, community center, and cemetery. The project was approved by unanimous vote of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in December 2019.


  • Lawdragon 500: Leaders in Environmental Law (2023)
  • Best Lawyers in America, Litigation-Environmental (2018-2024), Environmental Law (2022-2024)
  • Northern California Super Lawyers in Environmental Litigation (2014-2023)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • California Bar Association, Section on Environmental Law
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental Law Section
  • Association of Environmental Professionals