As a self-described “adrenaline junkie,” Lauren Daniel thrives in the high-pressure environments of trial and mediation. And she’s had no shortage of opportunities for both as an environmental lawyer for Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.
In less than a decade at the firm, Daniel has worked on BP Plc’s Clean Water Act trial team after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, represented Honeywell International Inc. in big-money environmental cleanup disputes, and steered through a sprawling toxic torts landscape for clients facing potential liability for “forever chemicals.”
“I love those high-pressure environments, so it’s a good space for me,” the senior associate said. She said she especially valued the opportunity to work with the “highest-caliber experts” in major cases.
Her skill in navigating those cases has paid dividends. In the Honeywell litigation, Daniel was the architect of a legal theory—affirmed by an appeals court in 2018—that defeated an injunction attempt and monetary damages claims in a challenge to the company’s $451 million cleanup of the Onondaga Lake Superfund site in New York.
“We had initially thought that perhaps only the injunctive claims were readily dismissable, but I think where I really contributed was I really came up with our legal theory for dismissal of also the monetary damages claims, which were a little bit thornier,” she said.
In the coming years, much of Daniel’s time will be spent helping clients defend against claims related to alleged contamination from commonly used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are also known as “forever chemicals.”
“There’s no question that PFAS is going to continue to be at the forefront of changes in environmental law,” Daniel said. “The evidentiary issues are complicated. You have a chemical where the science is very much still evolving, so standards of proof and expert issues there are just particularly interesting.”
She also expects to increasingly focus on how climate change affects contaminated sites and related liability issues.
And in a different type of case expected to go to trial next month, Daniel represents the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in a challenge to a large development the advocacy organization contends would harm the Florida panther’s migration pathway.
“The conservancy views it as a very important stand against continuing sprawl that is environmentally deleterious in south Florida,” she said.
Brian Israel, chair of Arnold & Porter’s environmental practice group, called Daniel an emerging leader “both within the practice group and the environmental bar.”
“She possesses superb litigation skills, deep substantive expertise, and unwavering dedication to the firm and the firm’s clients,” he said. Israel noted that clients have praised Daniel for “her ability to cut through seemingly intractable legal, factual, and scientific issues to develop creative and effective strategies.”
As a Colorado native, Daniel said she grew up with an appreciation for nature and science that prompted her to focus on environmental law at Columbia Law School.
“It’s a field that’s really constantly evolving and has a lot of complex, sort of nerdy issues involved, which I like,” she said. “The ability to work in an area that really touches on science quite a bit was really attractive to me, too.”
She’s even found time to write outside of her court filings, serving as co-author for a book on natural resource damages published by the American Bar Association in 2019.
Asked about her biggest professional achievement, though, Daniel didn’t hesitate: “Preparing for trial during Covid with a 3-year-old,” she said.