January 27, 2020

McGinnis Lochridge, Austin’s oldest law firm, today announced that five lawyers have joined the firm’s Austin office including four environmental Partners and one environmental Associate. With them, they bring decades of experience involving a wide array of environmental issues including permitting, enforcement, site assessment, remediation, and compliance. The group also has significant administrative law, litigation, and regulatory experience.

The new lawyers include: Partners Al Axe, Keith Courtney, Lisa Dyar, and Derek Seal, along with associate Lecelle Clarke. This well-respected group joins the firm from Winstead. This follows on the heels of the recent addition of Doug Paul and Emily Franco to the firm’s Estate & Probate Practice Group.

“This year -- and the next decade -- is going to be one of thoughtful growth focused on the needs of our clients,” said Managing Partner Doug Dodds. “We’re excited about the addition of this impressive group of environmental attorneys. Not only do they have significant environmental expertise and a strong reputation in the marketplace, they are also wonderful people who will fit with the culture of our firm.”

“While we will miss our colleagues at Winstead, we are thrilled to be joining McGinnis Lochridge,” Al Axe, an environmental partner said. “The firm provides a strong platform, with shared clients and a diverse group of legal expertise.”

Al Axe brings more than 40 years of experience representing business and industrial clients in environmental and administrative litigation, regulatory, and legislative matters. Among other aspects of his environmental practice, he has guided clients through federal, state and local government enforcement actions and citizen suits, private party environmental claims and investigations, and contested administrative permit proceedings. He has also advised clients on agency open records issues and procurement proceedings.

Keith Courtney has more than 32 years of experience representing clients on various environmental matters, with an emphasis on air quality. Those matters include permitting, enforcement, counseling, environmental auditing, air emissions events and litigation. He has worked with clients in numerous industries including chemical manufacturing, aggregate mining and processing, midstream and upstream oil and gas operations, and electricity generation.

Lisa Dyar has been practicing environmental law for more than 20 years, representing clients in a wide range of industries with regard to permitting, compliance and enforcement, legislative and rulemaking objectives. Lisa served as a senior enforcement attorney in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Litigation Division, where she was lead counsel on some of the agency’s most complex and high profile enforcement cases.

Derek Seal brings almost three decades of regulatory and legislative experience to the firm. Before entering private practice, Derek served in numerous senior administrative and legislative positions, including as General Counsel of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and General Counsel in the Texas Legislature for the House Committee on Environmental Regulation. Derek has significant administrative law experience with water supply and on contested case hearings for air, waste, and water quality permits. He also focuses on permitting and enforcement.

Lecelle Clarke previously served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Environmental Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas (AG). While at the AG’s office, she represented the state and state agencies in litigation and enforcement proceedings pertaining to environmental, natural resources, and public utilities issues. Lecelle has also worked with the air quality, air monitoring, and air permitting teams at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

With 2020 barely underway, McGinnis Lochridge continues to focus on organic growth, with the intention of welcoming new attorneys in their Dallas and Houston offices throughout the year. Over the past 2 years, the firm has grown its attorney headcount by more than 40%, added two new offices in Dallas and Decatur, moved to a new and larger office in Houston and signed a lease for new space for its Austin office.

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