Stacey H. Mitchell is a partner in the environment and natural resources practice. She advises her corporate and individual clients on a wide range of environmental regulatory matters, including enforcement defense, internal investigations, litigation and transactional matters. She is also a member of the Washington Office’s Diversity Committee and Associates Committee Mentoring Program.
Practice & Background
Ms. Mitchell provides her clients with environmental regulatory advice that incorporates a deep understanding of the inner workings of both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ). She assists clients in achieving regulatory compliance, as well as assisting them in developing effective, high-quality compliance programs that are integrated with the organization’s business strategy. As an experienced litigator, Ms. Mitchell works with clients to defend and resolve any civil or criminal enforcement actions. Ms. Mitchell has extensive experience in crisis management, including managing the tensions between business-critical decisions and developing defensive litigation 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. In particular, Ms. Mitchell was deeply involved with congressional 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 prosecutors who handled federal pollution and natural resource criminal matters nationwide. In that capacity, she worked closely with personnel in United States Attorneys’ Offices to review and approve charging and disposition decisions, as well as with officials at investigative agencies, including the Department of the Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service), the Department of Commerce (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the United States Coast Guard. She advised the DOJ leadership on major cases, legislation, policy matters and issues of national significance. Ms. Mitchell directed national and international environmental crimes training and capacity-building while at the DOJ, and she led efforts with international organizations combating transnational crime involving the environment, including INTERPOL and numerous wildlife enforcement networks. From 1998–2007, as a trial attorney and Assistant Chief at ECS, she handled all aspects of litigation related to environmental-focused, white-collar criminal investigations and prosecutions. She served as lead counsel on numerous complex criminal cases, handling dozens of witnesses before the grand jury and litigating motions and trials in federal courts across the country.
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. She ran a large-scale undercover narcotics and homicide investigation and was selected for, and served as, a member of the Welfare Fraud and Sex Crimes Prosecution units.
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, “Environmental Law 101: Managing Environmental Compliance and Liabilities at Universities," Akin Gump hosted webinar, December 5, 2017
- speaker, “Environmental, Energy and Resources Policy and Enforcement: Perspectives from a Former EPA Deputy General Counsel and DOJ Enforcement Chief,” Fall North America IAPC Meeting, November 7, 2017
- panelist, “A Health-y Environment: Avoiding Environmental Liability at Health Care Facilities,” Akin Gump hosted webinar, September 28, 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.