Stacey H. Mitchell represents her clients in complex criminal and civil litigation, and advises on a wide range of environmental regulatory matters, including compliance assistance, project development and climate adaptation. Ms. Mitchell has extensive experience in crisis management, including managing the tensions between business-critical decisions and developing defensive litigation strategy. She is a leader in the firm’s corporate social responsibility and reputational recovery work.
Practice & Background
An experienced litigator, Ms. Mitchell works with clients to defend and resolve civil and criminal enforcement actions. Ms. Mitchell’s insight and advice for clients incorporates her deep understanding of the inner workings of both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She counsels clients regarding their environmental regulatory obligations, as well as assists them to develop effective, high-quality compliance programs that are fully integrated with the organization’s business strategy. She advises clients on the potential implications of climate change in the context of complex business decisions, including on long-term environmental compliance.
Immediately prior to joining Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Ms. Mitchell was Deputy General Counsel at the EPA, where she advised the Administrator and other senior leadership on legal and policy issues and options, including in the context of the agency’s development of regulations related to water, waste, pesticides and toxic substances. She was directly engaged with the agency’s responses to oversight by Congress, including oversight regarding the Clean Water Rule; the agency’s actions related to a large mine development in Alaska; the Gold King (Silverton, Colorado) mine incident; and the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
From 2007-2013, she served as Chief of the DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section (ECS). As Chief, Ms. Mitchell ran an office of over 40 prosecutors who handled federal pollution and natural resource criminal matters nationwide. In that capacity, she worked closely with personnel in United States Attorneys’ Offices, as well as with officials the Department of the Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service), the Department of Commerce (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the United States Coast Guard. Ms. Mitchell directed national and international environmental crimes training and capacity-building while at the DOJ, including leading efforts with INTERPOL and other international organizations combating transnational crime involving the environment.
Ms. Mitchell began her legal career in the New York County District Attorney’s office, trying dozens of bench and jury trials, including a “cold case” homicide and served as a member of the Sex Crimes and Welfare Fraud Prosecution units.
Ms. Mitchell is currently the Chair of the Women’s Initiative in the Washington Office, and is a member of the Office’s Diversity Committee and active with the Associates Committee Mentoring Program.
Ms. Mitchell received her J.D. cum laude from Tulane University School of Law and her B.A. from Colby College in government. She is a recipient of the John Marshall Award and is a frequent speaker on environmental crimes at national and international conferences.
- Deputy General Counsel, EPA (2014-2017)
- Chief, Environmental Crimes Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division, DOJ (2007-2014)
- Senior Trial Attorney/Trial Attorney, Environmental Crimes Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division, DOJ (1998-2005)
- Assistant District Attorney, New York County District Attorney’s Office (1994-1998).
Awards & Accolades
- Named to the Leadership Council of the Environmental Law Institute
- Named to The National Law Journal’s 2018 list of Energy & Environmental Trailblazers
- Recipient of the Department of Homeland Security’s, United States Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award (April 2014)
- Recipient of the DOJ’s John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement for Providing Legal Advice (October 2013).
- panelist, “Criminal Environmental Enforcement Under the Trump Administration” at the D.C. Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Luncheon in Washington, D.C., June 12, 2018
- panelist, “Environmental Law 101: Managing Environmental Compliance and Liabilities at Universities," Akin Gump hosted webinar, December 5, 2017
- speaker, 2017 Environmental, Health & Safety Exchange Conference hosted by The Institute of Internal Auditors in St. Louis, Missouri, September 11, 2017
- panelist, “Litigation Forum: Keeping Your Head When Everyone Around You Is Losing Theirs,” Association of Corporate Counsel National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., September 7, 2017
- speaker, “Regulatory Enforcement & Citizens Suits in the New Administration” at the American Gas Association’s 40th Annual Legal Forum in San Diego, California, July 9, 2017.