Steven R. Johnson, the former Principal Counsel for the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), has joined Ballard Spahr in its Baltimore and Washington, D.C., offices, firm Chair Mark Stewart announced today.

“We are flattered and really fortunate that the top environmental lawyer in Maryland wants to practice with us at Ballard Spahr,” said Harry Weiss, leader of the firm's Environment and Natural Resources Group. “Our clients in Maryland and beyond will be delighted to have a lawyer of Steve’s caliber to call upon.”

As the chief legal adviser to the MDE on matters arising under federal and state environmental laws, Mr. Johnson managed an office of 28 lawyers and represented the state in litigation in federal and state courts as well as at the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings. He led enforcement actions in cases involving wetlands, water pollution, and waste disposal, oversaw the creation of an innovative regulatory vehicle to facilitate the remediation and development of a contaminated industrial site, and managed the review and analysis of hundreds of proposed legislative bills concerning the environment.

“Ballard Spahr is known for its top-tier, nationally ranked real estate and environmental practices,” said Jon M. Laria, managing partner of the firm’s Baltimore Office. “Steve brings significant experience in both, plus an insider’s knowledge of Maryland state government and how it works. He is a perfect fit for the firm as we aim to become a leader in Maryland environmental law.”

Mr. Johnson’s background makes him uniquely qualified to help clients navigate MDE’s regulatory programs, including taking contaminated properties through MDE’s Voluntary Cleanup Program. He also can advise on the Department’s nutrient pollution trading program as well as the related requirements under the EPA-mandated Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan. He has served on the City of Rockville (Maryland) Planning Commission and the Rockville Board of Appeals, giving him practical knowledge into Maryland’s land development review and approval process. He will also be integral to the firm’s growing energy, climate change, and sustainability practice. 

Ballard Spahr's real estate practice in Maryland is ranked in the highest tier nationally by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. The attorneys in its Environment and Natural Resources Group have played leading roles in sustainable development-related activities, from public sector program design and Supreme Court litigation to advising on management and compliance strategy. They help clients address contamination liability issues and resolve disputes with regulators so that transactions or redevelopment plans can move forward. 

“When I decided to leave MDE, I was looking for a firm with a robust Maryland practice, a national platform, and a widely respected environmental practice. Ballard fit the bill perfectly,” said Mr. Johnson. “I look forward to helping grow the firm’s environmental practice in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and to working alongside attorneys I have known for years.”