Our Attorneys

Phillip M. Bender

As a former chef, Phil brings a wide-ranging skill set to his representation of clients. His liberal use of butter aside, the skills he developed in the restaurant business enhance and diversify the tools he can apply to a client’s legal issues. In representing corporate, municipal, non-profit and individual clients in all aspects of environmental, regulatory and strategic matters and in environmental and commercial litigation, Phil routinely exercises the patience and attention to detail so critical to a chef’s craft. But the best application of Phil’s culinary background is seen in his calm, measured response to challenging and stressful situations and in his creative and assured management of client’s legal issues towards a successful resolution. Phil’s professionalism, grace under pressure and sense of urgency on behalf of his clients garners regular praise from clients, colleagues and opponents around the country.

Phil’s practice is devoted to advising, negotiating and litigating issues involving water quality, discharges and water rights; Superfund sites; real estate issues; civil and criminal environmental enforcement by local, state and federal agencies; environmental permitting, including removal/fill permits, NPDES permits, Title V air emissions permits, local and state environmental permits, and esoteric administrative processes such as those involving Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area permits, for example; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Toxic Substances Control Act issues, including TSCA Inventory listings; facility siting, including the siting and development of green technology and recycling technology facilities; and environmental compliance strategy.

Phil’s breadth of environmental and regulatory expertise is complimented by the depth of his litigation experience. Phil has represented clients in suits arising from contract and property disputes, civil rights violations, environmental permitting, contamination and compliance matters, and other complex disputes. Phil has appeared before state and federal courts and administrative tribunals throughout the country, most recently in Oregon, Washington, California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

Prior to founding the firm’s Pittsburgh office, Phil was a partner with Bateman Seidel Minor Blomgren Chellis & Gram and an associate with K&L Gates LLP and Preston Gates & Ellis. Phil also served as an Assistant Attorney General with the Trial Division of the Oregon Department of Justice, clerked for the Hon. Robert W. Redding, and worked for the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

In addition to being a good cook, Phil is an accomplished and well-traveled surfer, skier, mountain biker and windsurfer. His passion for the outdoors is evident in his commitment to conservation. Phil serves as Legal Counsel of Riverlife, an organization dedicated to the enhancement of Pittsburgh’s riverfronts, and as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Bike Pittsburgh, which advocates for cyclists, pedestrians and intelligent transportation planning in the Pittsburgh region. Phil and his family live in an old Pittsburgh neighborhood filled with squirrels.

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Patrick “Kit” Bobko

Kit brings a unique combination of professional and practical experience to his law practice.

He has litigated cases as varied as a disputed mining claim outside of Barstow, to a contract dispute involving a restaurant on the Seal Beach pier, to an officer-involved shooting in Orange County, and obtained a gang injunction for a city in the San Gabriel Valley.

Most recently, Kit has been at the forefront of the medical marijuana litigation on behalf of cities and local governments. He successfully defended Santa Ana’s medical marijuana ordinance against a multitude of challenges in both state and federal court.

Kit has deep expertise with the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”) and has represented the cities of Highland, Rancho Cucamonga, and Brea in lawsuits involving this statute.

An experienced trial lawyer, Kit is currently representing a community services district in Riverside County in a $17 million lawsuit over disputed provisions in an operating agreement.

Kit is also a former two-term City Councilman and Mayor of Hermosa Beach, California, where his focus on education, sustainable growth, and public safety resulted in a safer, healthier community. During his time in office, Kit led the team that revitalized Hermosa Beach’s famous Pier Avenue, updated the city’s business tax structure, and resolved the decades-old legal battle with Macpherson Oil that had threatened the city’s very existence. Kit was also a Republican candidate for Congress in 2011 for the 36th Congressional District.

This broad base of experience gives Kit an inside perspective both in how a city works at the highest level and how legal counsel can best serve to help clients accomplish their goals. Most recently, Kit expanded his practice to include providing advisory services as City Attorney for the City of Buena Park. His first hand experience with government and the litigation process help him guide his clients to effectively measure options and manage risks.

Kit comes from an Air Force family. Like his father, uncle, and brother, Kit is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a proud Air Force veteran. Beat Army!

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Norman A. Dupont

Norman A. Dupont is a partner at Ring Bender, where he advises public and private clients in environmental matters and a variety of litigation matters.  Mr. Dupont has over 33 years experience in the environmental law field, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (“CERCLA”), the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, amendments to the Solid Waste Disposal Act (“RCRA”), the Clean Water Act, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, Proposition 65 claims, brownfield redevelopment projects, California Hazardous Substance Account Act claims, stormwater discharges from MS4 systems, and suits alleging common law tort claims.  Norm is listed as a super lawyer for environmental litigation in the Southern California edition of Super Lawyers® in 2017 and 2018.

Mr. Dupont has tried a variety of cases including environmental, antitrust, contract, labor and tort cases before both in bench trials and before juries. Among his recent cases are:

*Bradford v. City of Compton (2016) Jury trial with defense verdict in favor of municipal defendant on labor discrimination/retaliation claims.
(appeal pending).

*Orange County Water Dist. v. SABIC Innovative Plastics US, LLC (2013) Bench trial with defense verdict on state Hazardous Substance Account Act (HSAA) claims alleging groundwater against multiple corporate defendants. This decision was reversed in part by Orange County Water Dist. v. SABIC Innovative Plastics, US, LLC, 14 Cal.App.5th 343 (2017).

Mr. Dupont is active in the Section of Environmental, Energy and Resources of the ABA, where he currently serves as a member of the governing Council. He currently serves as the chair of the webboard responsible for web posting on the Section’s web pages. He has previously served as Editor-in-Chief of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources publication Trends from 2011-2013. He continues to serve as a vice-chair to the Section’s Science and Technology Committee.  He is a member of the Orange County and Los Angeles County Bar’s environmental law sections.

Mr. Dupont actively participates in his community and currently serves as Treasurer for Women Against Gun Violence, a Los Angeles-based education and advocacy group which supports sensible gun regulation in the country’s second largest municipal area.

Mr. Dupont has written and lectured extensively on a variety of environmental issues, including recent U.S. Supreme Court cases deciding environmental law issues.

Recent Presentations:

Association for Environmental Health & Sciences Foundation: 28th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air (March 2018): “Groundwater Contamination Wars in California – Legal & Technical Issues.”

The Knowledge Group (April 2018): “A Comprehensive Guide on the Fundamental Framework of CERCLA: What You Need to Know in 2018 and Beyond.”

Articles:

“Severe Storms May Be the “New Normal”: But How Do Legal Systems React?”  (Science and Technology Committee Newsletter, Vol. 12, No. 1) (November 2016), American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.

“Supreme Court Decides Rails to Trails Case: A New Governmental Attorney Estoppel Doctrine or a Case of Revisionist History?” (Trends, Vol. 45, No. 6) (July/August 2014), American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources

“Complex Environmental Cases Before the Supreme Court: Just How Do You Explain the ‘Spaghetti-Like’ Matrix?” (American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources, 43rd Annual Spring Conference) (2014)

“The Court’s 2013 Term and Environmental Law: A Whimper, Not a Bang” (Trends, Vol. 43, No. 1) (September/October 2013)

Federal Preemption of State and Local Environmental Laws” (Chapter 7, Principles of Constitutional Law, American Bar Association) (2011)

“Connecticut v. AEP: The Second Circuit Confirms Standing of States, the City of New York, and Private Land Trusts” (Constitutional Law Committee Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 1) (February 2010)

“The Supreme Court’s environmental case this term: Will it be a “takings” away of beach restoration?” (Trends, Vol. 32, No. 2) (December 2009)

“Supreme Court Sticks to the Narrow Issues on Environmental Cases” (Los Angeles Daily Journal) (June 2009)

“Moving At A Glacial Pace” (Los Angeles Daily Journal) (June 2009)

“NEPA and Climate Change: Are We at the “Tipping Point”?” (Natural Resources & Environment, Volume 23, Number 4, American Bar Association) (Spring 2009)

“Supreme Court Rules on Federal Preemption of State Unfair Practices Act: A Renewed Constitutional Presumption Against Preemption” (ABA, Constitutional Law Committee Newsletter) (2009)

“The Ninth Circuit’s Burlington Northern Decision on Arranger Liability – Don’t Cry ‘CERCLA’ over Spilt Bourbon?” (Environmental Litigation & Toxic Torts, American Bar Association) (2008)

“High Court Leans Left on Environmental Issues” (Massachusetts v. EPA, 127 S. Ct. 1438) (2007)

“The Dormant Commerce Clause and United Haulers – A Constitutional Doctrine on Terminal life Support” (United Haulers Assoc., Inc. v. Oenida-Herkimer Solid Waste Management Authority, 550 U.S. __, 127 S. Ct. 1786 (2007) United Haulers)

“Who’s Really Blowing Smoke – Scalia Needs a New Dictionary” (The Recorder) (2007)

“Rapanos and the Ebbing of the Constitutional ‘high water’ Mark for the Commerce Clause Limitation on Federal Wetlands Regulation” (Rapanos v. U.S., 126 S. Ct. 2208, 2220-21) (2006)

“‘Plain Meaning’ Construction of Environmental Statutes” (Natural Resources & Environment, American Bar Association) (2006)

“9th Circuit Sticks to the Clean Water Pragmatism of ‘Rapanos'” (Rapanos v. U.S., 126 S. Ct. 2208, 2220-21) (2006)

“Ruling Hints Roberts Court Isn’t Hide-Bound Conservative” (Los Angeles Daily Journal) (2006)

“New Orleans After Katrina: A Superfund Site?” (Natural Resources & Environment, American Bar Association) (2006)

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Christine L. Hein

Christine represents businesses, municipal entities and individuals in regulatory, permitting and litigation matters involving a broad range of environmental, natural resources, tribal, energy, land use, facility development and occupational health and safety issues.  Her practice focuses on counseling and representing clients in negotiations with regulatory agencies and in litigation regarding compliance with federal statutes such as CERCLA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, RCRA, OSHA, MSHA and related state laws.  She also advises numerous municipalities on water rights, public works and contracting issues.

Christine and the other members of Ring Bender’s Environmental Law and Litigation practice groups draw upon a wide range of unique skills, years of experience and expertise by working as a team to effectively serve clients’ needs.  This teamwork approach allows the group to provide clients with prompt, high quality, effective and creative advice and solutions to even the most complex legal issues.

Prior to joining Ring Bender, Christine practiced environmental and natural resource law for many years at Bateman Seidel Miner Blomgren Chellis & Gram and in the Portland office of global law firm, K&L Gates.  Christine began her legal career at the New York City firm of Seward & Kissel, where she practiced corporate finance law and gained a great deal of transactional experience.  Prior to law school Christine worked as a Development Officer at the Rainforest Foundation in New York and also served as an agriculture extension volunteer in the Peace Corps in Guatemala.

When not working, Christine can often be found tending her backyard vegetable garden, cooking, canning or knitting a scarf.  Christine and her husband James also love adventure travel and recently hiked the Inca Trail in Peru.

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J.W. (Jeff) Ring

J.W. represents large and small businesses, U.S. and foreign corporations and boards of directors, cities, special districts, port authorities and individuals in the areas of environmental and natural resources law, ocean law, administrative law and regulatory compliance, water rights, mining law, health and safety, energy and transportation development, general commercial law and litigation.  J.W. has significant trial experience having lead litigation in thirty eight States and three U.S. Territories.  His litigation practice includes major case litigation in the areas of commercial law, civil rights, environmental law (both civil and criminal), real property, land use, regulatory law and the full range of natural resources issues.

J.W.’s practice has included the representation of his clients before federal, state and local regulatory authorities, boards, hearing officers and administrative judges.  That work, together with his work as a lead trial lawyer in federal and state courtrooms throughout the United States, has involved all environmental media, health and safety concerns, energy generation, environmental management, public and private infrastructure construction, new manufacturing facility permitting, municipal drinking water and sewage, marine terminal and airport construction, public records and meetings, public official and employee ethics, real estate disputes, public and private housing, Superfund,  air, water and waste permitting, environmental professional liability, environmental disclosure requirements, toxic torts, and criminal environmental defense.    J.W. focuses on bringing innovative, cost-effective and cost-reducing counseling and compliance strategies to the regulated community as well as cost efficient litigation representation to litigants in federal and state courts.

A significant component of J.W.’s practice involves work as an integrated component of client teams that include public entity staffs and managers, industry associations, private client managers and employees, technical consultants and experts, and elected officials.  J.W. and the other members of Ring Bender’s Environmental Law and Litigation practice groups draw upon a wide range of unique skills, years of experience and expertise by working as a team to effectively serve clients’ needs.  This teamwork approach allows the group to provide clients with prompt, high quality, effective and creative advice and solutions to even the most complex legal issues.

J.W.’s past experience in the private sector includes time as a partner in the San Francisco headquartered firm of Heller Ehrman; and as a partner in the Seattle headquartered firm of Preston Gates & Ellis (now K&L Gates).  Prior to entering private practice, J.W. was employed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Boise and Miami as a senior trial lawyer representing the United States and a number of federal departments, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Interior, Defense, Commerce, State and Housing and Urban Development as well as the FBI and U.S. Secret Service.  While with the Justice Department, J.W. was a senior instructor with the Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute, teaching federal lawyers trial practice skills, and at the FBI Academy teaching federal agents environmental investigation techniques.  Since entering private practice, J.W. has been a frequent instructor and lecturer at seminars as well as law and graduate schools.

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Mark P. Strandberg

Mark Strandberg is an associate in Ring Bender’s Portland office. Mark represents municipal entities, businesses, and individuals in regulatory, permitting and litigation matters involving a broad range of environmental, natural resources, tribal, energy, land use, and occupational health and safety issues.  His practice involves counseling and representing clients in negotiations with regulatory agencies and in litigation regarding compliance with federal statutes such as CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, NEPA, RCRA, OSHA, and related state laws.  He also advises numerous municipalities on water rights, public works and contracting issues.

Mark and the other members of Ring Bender’s Environmental Law and Litigation practice group draw upon a wide range of unique skills, years of experience and expertise by working as a team to effectively serve clients’ needs.  This teamwork approach allows the group to provide clients with prompt, high quality, effective and creative advice and solutions to even the most complex legal issues.

Prior to joining Ring Bender, Mark began his career practicing environmental and natural resources law at Bateman Seidel Minor Blomgren Chellis and Gram. Before law school, Mark was an English teacher at a private school in Anyang, South Korea.

When not practicing law, Mark enjoys travelling around the Pacific Northwest, discovering new places to forage wild food, and new ways to cook what he discovers. Mark’s dog, Sugar, loves to join him, particularly when these travels take them to the ocean.

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Jay A. Tufano

Jay Tufano practices out of Ring Bender’s Orange County office and Northern California, specializing in environmental, water, and insurance law, as well as commercial litigation.

Jay’s environmental practice involves counseling and representing clients in litigation and negotiations with regulatory agencies regarding compliance with federal statutes such as CERCLA (i.e. Superfund), RCRA, and related state statutes, including California’s HSAA.  He also represents businesses in private cost recovery suits, including groundwater cleanup litigation and actions involving drycleaners.  On the transactional side, Jay counsels private developers and public entities in matters involving the sale, acquisition, cleanup, and redevelopment of contaminated properties (i.e. “brownfield redevelopment”).  His expertise includes evaluating potential regulatory risks and site closure requirements, together with risk-mitigation tools such as environmental insurance.  With years of experience in environmental mitigation design, construction, and implementation, Jay offers a valuable technical perspective when collaborating with clients to reach their goals.

Prior to joining Ring Bender, Jay practiced at the international law firm, Clyde & Co, where he advised Lloyd’s of London insurers on complex claims arising under architects’ and engineers’ professional-liability policies.

When not practicing law, Jay enjoys ocean sports and adventure seeking with his young family.

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