Phillip Bender

Phillip Bender
Phone: (412) 770-7721
Location: 925 Liberty Avenue, 8th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Download vCard

Phillip 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 complemented 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.

Representative Matters

  • Representing a municipal sewer authority for a small city in Pennsylvania in environmental compliance, project development and other matters.
  • Representing a coalition of Oregon cities expanding their drinking water systems and water sources, including in litigation challenging water rights held by those cities.
  • Representing an international corporation in litigation related to natural resource damages claims at a major Superfund site.
  • Representing property owners in a major West Coast Superfund site.
  • Defending a family owned specialty chemical products distributor in complex groundwater litigation in California.
  • Represented major steel manufacturer in Ohio in state environmental enforcement action involving state and federal hazardous waste, water pollution and used oil management allegations.
  • Litigated appeal of Pennsylvania residual waste permit for wastewater management company that challenged permit conditions.
  • Advising and advocating for West Coast startup company that has developed new recycling technology before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Counseling major international recycler of steel industry byproducts on environmental compliance, permitting and strategic issues.
  • Advised and advocated for natural gas pipeline developer on environmental permitting and litigated appeal of Oregon permit decision.
  • Represented Pennsylvania urban infill developer in litigation challenging denial of surface mining permit against state environmental agency.
  • Defended major rail products manufacturer against a federal environmental enforcement action alleging hazardous waste violations.
  • Represented international biomedical company in federal criminal investigation involving alleged RCRA violations by employees.
  • Represented environmental consulting firm in federal criminal investigation of a coal mining waste spill into Ohio and federal waters.
  • Litigated California contract dispute involving alleged purchase of Andy Warhol paintings and other fine art for individual client against art gallery.
  • Litigated real estate sale dispute between California industrial property owner who sold property overlying historic landfill and purchaser.
  • Obtained environmental permits for Oregon municipality seeking to increase its municipal drinking water supply.

Representative Reported Opinions

  • Bartusch v. Oregon Dept. of Higher Education, et al., 126 P.3d 840 (Wash. App. Div. II, 2006)
  • Kleinman v. Multnomah County et al., 2005 WL 1801653 (D. Or. 2005)
  • Hagel v. Portland State University, 2005 WL 1502884 (D. Or. 2005)
  • Lumbreras v. Roberts, 319 F.Supp.2d 1191 (D. Or. 2004), affirmed, 156 Fed. App. 952 (9th Cir. 2005)

Professional & Civic Activities

  • General Counsel and Member of Design Committee, Riverlife
  • Secretary, Board of Directors, Bike Pittsburgh
  • Leadership Development Initiative XVI, a program of Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc. (LPInc.), Graduate
  • Chair, PopUp Pittsburgh!, a project of LPInc. (2008)
  • American Bar Association and ABA Section of Energy, Environmental and Resources, Member
  • Oregon State Bar, Member, Pro Bono Committee, 2005-2007
  • Oregon State Bar, Member, Model Pro Bono Policy Subcommittee, 2005-2007
  • Oregon Lawyers Against Hunger, Firm Coordinator, 2004-2007
  • Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Volunteer, 2000-2007


  • J.D. & Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Lewis and Clark College Northwestern School of Law (1997); Associate Editor, Environmental Law; Cornelius Honor Society; Manas Scholarship; Wallace Stegner Center Writing Award
  • B.A., American Studies, Reed College (1991)

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for Eastern District Washington
  • Various pro hac vice admissions in California, West Virginia and Ohio

Bar Admissions

  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington