Lawrence R. "Larry" Liebesman

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Lawrence R. Liebesman is a nationally recognized environmental lawyer and litigator with more than 30 years of experience. His practice emphasizes wetlands, water pollution, coastal, environmental impact assessment and endangered species law.

Mr. Liebesman represents developers, trade associations, local governments, mining and energy companies on a broad range of environmental issues. He has negotiated Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act permits and approvals for commercial, residential, public works and mining projects and has defended challenges to those permits and approvals in court. Mr. Liebesman represents the National Stone Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) on wetlands issues, including developing comments on the Army Corps of Engineers' and the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed revisions to the CWA jurisdictional rule. He also advises clients on storm water permitting. He is very involved in Chesapeake Bay cleanup issues and sits on the Maryland State Water Quality Advisory Committee, where he provides advice to the Maryland secretaries of Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on Bay water quality issues.

Mr. Liebesman has participated in landmark Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) cases. He has authored amicus briefs in seven major environmental cases before the United States Supreme Court. These included briefs in the Rapanos and Carabell cases regarding  the reach of CWA Jurisdiction over adjacent wetlands, the South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe involving the definition of "discharge" under the CWA, Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for A Great Oregon, involving the ESA "take" definition, Bennett v. Spear expanding the rights of property owners to sue under the ESA, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency v. Defenders of Wildlife dealing with ESA consideration in EPA's delegation of CWA permitting authority to the states.  Mr. Liebesman has testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on proposed legislation to reform the ESA. He is the co-author of the Endangered Species Act Desk Book: a Guide to Endangered Species Law for the Environmental Law Institute (2nd Ed., 2010) and authored The Water Suppliers Guide To Wetlands Regulation and Management for the American Water Works Association( 1996).

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Liebesman spent 11 years as a senior trial attorney at the Department of Justice (DOJ), including a one-year detail to the President's Council on Environmental Quality during the Carter Administration, helping to develop regulations to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). While at the DOJ, he handled landmark cases under Superfund, the CWA, the Clean Air Act (CAA) and NEPA. He was lead counsel in NRDC v. EPA, which upheld major portions of the EPA's NPDES program under the CWA, and Bersani v. EPA, which upheld EPA's veto authority under Section 404(c) of the CWA. Prior to his DOJ service, he spent two years at EPA's Office of Federal Activities, EPA's NEPA oversight office.

Mr. Liebesman is an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School, where he teaches a course on wildlife and ecosystem law. He previously taught a course on wetlands law and policy at the University of Baltimore Law School. He has also served as a mentor in the Vermont Law School Semester In Practice Program.

Honors & Awards

  • Holland & Knight Public and Charitable Service All-Star, 2014
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Environment Law, 2008-2015
  • Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers magazine, 2011-2015
  • Who's Who Legal, 2011
  • Special Achievement and Special Commendations Awards, Department of Justice
  • Consultant of the Year, Home Builders Association of Maryland, 1993
  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association
  • American Law Institute Course of Study on "Species Protection and the Law," Planning Co-Chair
  • American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Water Quality Committee, Chair
  • Environmental Law Institute, Council of Partners
  • Maryland State Water Quality Advisory Committee