Glenn L. Unterberger, an accomplished environmental lawyer who was a partner and former leader of the environmental practice at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia, died on Sunday, October 14, 2018.

Mr. Unterberger, 65, joined Ballard Spahr in 1990 after more than a decade as an enforcement attorney at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. In private practice, he forged a reputation as one of the area's leading authorities on the Clean Air Act and advised numerous major companies on compliance with that and other environmental laws and regulations.

Mr. Unterberger was well-known for his distinctive written style, gentlemanly manner, and wry wit.

"You could count on Glenn for certain things: distinguished writing, a calm and thoughtful approach to every situation, and a sense of humor – dry, exquisitely timed, and very often nuanced – that would leave you laughing out loud at your desk," Ballard Spahr Chair Mark Stewart said. "Glenn succeeded me as 'Commissioner' of March Madness activities and he sent some of the most entertaining communications I have read. We have lost a dear friend who excelled at the big things and also the little things in life."

Mr. Unterberger's embrace of his role as the firm's March Madness Commissioner underscored his love for sports, especially basketball, and his penchant for fun. He organized and informally served as "self-appointed Commissioner" of the "Old Guys Basketball Association," a group of Mr. Unterberger's friends who have been meeting weekly in Bala Cynwyd for Sunday morning pickup games for the past 25 years.

In addition to sports and law, Mr. Unterberger was passionate about music, his synagogue, and, most of all, his family, said his friend Harry Weiss, practice leader of Ballard Spahr's Environment and Natural Resources Group.

Mr. Weiss joined the firm as a young associate around the time Mr. Unterberger joined from the EPA, where he had served as national legal director for the agency's water and hazardous waste enforcement. Mr. Unterberger became the go-to resource for regulatory issues for Mr. Weiss and other lawyers in Ballard Spahr's environmental practice.

"Glenn had come from the EPA, where he wrote many regulations, so who better to teach young lawyers—not only where to find the regulations, which is hard enough, but what they meant, which was almost impossible," Mr. Weiss said. "His effectiveness was in parsing the words and understanding from a regulatory and a policy standpoint what those words on a page meant and how they could affect clients' businesses.

"I also think about him being a very different kind of lawyer, especially in a big-firm setting: completely ego-free, unassuming, and gentlemanly."

Though he had focused on water and hazardous waste issues at the EPA, Mr. Unterberger "took it upon himself to learn the Clean Air Act inside and out" when the law underwent reauthorization and large-scale expansion in 1990, Mr. Weiss said.

"He became, over the years and up until today, one of the foremost experts in the Delaware Valley and advised countless clients on compliance with that law," Mr. Weiss said.

Mr. Weiss recalled one case in particular that demonstrated Mr. Unterberger's ability to "be smarter than the regulators," resulting in a win for a manufacturing client that benefitted from his unique approach to regulatory interpretation—an approach that even the regulators had to admit they had not thought of.

A frequent speaker and writer on environmental law issues, Mr. Unterberger was active in professional affairs. He was a past Vice Chair of the Environment Committee of the Federal Bar Association and was co-Chair of the Air Quality Work Group of the Environmental Affairs Committee of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, a group of regulators and business leaders that meets regularly to discuss environmental issues and policy. One Chamber colleague described his contribution toward a "business-oriented application of Clean Air law" as "second to none."

Mr. Unterberger garnered an equally adulatory level of respect and affection in the community. He was active within and dedicated to his synagogue, Adath Israel in Merion Station, Pennsylvania, where he served on the Board of Directors for 20 years and as president for two years. He was a member of the Philadelphia-area Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary and was honored with the Shin Award for outstanding service to his community and synagogue in 2007.

Mr. Unterberger is survived by his wife, Alyse, and his sons, Sam (Allison) and Andrew (Lisa Ebe).

Funeral services will be at 12 noon on Wednesday at Adath Israel, 250 N. Highland Ave., Merion Station, Pennsylvania.

Shiva will be observed Wednesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. at the synagogue, with services at 7 p.m. On Saturday through Monday, shiva will be observed at the Unterberger home, 1205 Gainsboro Road, Bala Cynwyd: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with services at 8 p.m.; Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m. with services at 7 p.m.

Donations in Mr. Unterberger's memory may be made to Adath Israel, 250 N. Highland Ave., Merion Station, PA 19066 or online at