168th Commencement: Watch Live
Doreen Simmons '74, a partner at Hancock & Estabrook, LLP, has been named a 2011 Environmental Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers, a peer-review legal publication. She is one of only four attorneys in New York state to earn the designation.
As the leader of the Environmental Practice Group at Hancock & Estabrook in Syracuse, N.Y., she has more than 25 years experience representing major and mid-sized industries, individuals, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in regulatory proceedings and matters involving compliance, acquisitions and permitting.
Simmons, who has a background in science, recalled that, "In 1983 I took my first environmental law case by default because no one else at the assignment table knew the difference between an organic and an inorganic compound."
"I quickly developed an environmental practice, and now I've worked on every type of environmental matter from regulatory compliance and permitting, CERCLA and toxic tort litigation, oil spills and property redevelopment," she said.
In discussing "Green Law," she noted that "many of the new green practices you see today are really old green practices. Much goes back to our great-grandmothers' advice about saving, reusing and recycling to save money and avoid waste."
Simmons joined Hancock & Estabrook in 1980, becoming, ultimately, the first female partner in a major law firm in the Syracuse area. Prior to beginning work at the firm, she was the first female assistant district attorney in the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office.
"I am most pleased with this award because I was selected by my peers who I greatly respect," she said. "There are many excellent environmental attorneys in New York, many who have graduated from Albany Law School."
She earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University before enrolling at Albany Law. While at Albany Law, she met her husband, Harvey, with whom she has raised three children while juggling her busy law practice.