The Environmental Law Section is pleased to announce that Clifford Lee will be the recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. The Section established this award in 2014 to recognize environmental lawyers who have contributed to the field of environmental law over a sustained period, achieved excellence in the practice of environmental law, and provided legal services with high ethics and collegiality.
Clifford Lee’s encyclopedic knowledge of California’s water and species protection laws stems from more than four decades of high-profile litigation and regulatory work. Starting in 1977, as a staff attorney with the Governor’s Commission to Review California Water Rights Law, and continuing for 40 years as a Deputy Attorney General, Cliff led many efforts to balance the State’s competing interests in water resources and species protection. In addition to litigation in state and federal courts, at trial as well as at the appellate level, Cliff was an active participant in non-litigation solutions with federal agencies and through negotiated settlements.
Cliff helped develop a new generation of environmental lawyers through his seminar presentations and selfless mentorship of colleagues and law students. For almost 20 years, Cliff taught water law at U.C. Hastings School of Law. After his “retirement” from the California Department of Justice in 2019, Cliff continued his academic work with a recent law review article “Federalism and Water: The California Experience” and is working on a project to modernize California water rights law. Cliff’s intellectual rigor is matched by the wide-spread recognition of his absolute integrity and professionalism amongst his peers. The Environmental Law Section is proud to recognize Cliff for his lifetime of achievements in environmental law.