The American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) is a professional association of distinguished lawyers who practice in the field of environmental law.  Membership is by invitation and members are recognized by their peers as preeminent in their field.  ACOEL members are dedicated to: maintaining and improving the ethical practice of environmental law; the administration of justice; and the development of environmental law at both the state and federal level.

Information on current officers is below. For more information please read the current bylaws of the ACOEL, and see the links at the bottom of the page to history of officers, Regents and our annual meetings. 

President: John Cruden

John Cruden is the immediate past Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice. He has also served as the President of the Environmental Law Institute, the President of the District of Columbia Bar Association, and the Chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources.  Mr. Cruden can be reached john.cruden@icloud.com



President-Elect 2018: Allan Gates 

Allan Gates is a member of Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard. He has served as defense counsel in hazardous waste and Superfund actions before state agencies, EPA, and in state and federal court, as well as counsel in air pollution, water pollution, toxic tort, wetlands, environmental impact statement and coastal management disputes and litigation. He can be reached at agates@mwlaw.com.




Treasurer: Michael D. Hockley

Michael Hockley is a partner in the Environmental and Energy Law practice of Spencer Fane LLP. Mike’s practice concentrates on litigation, environmental law, and renewable energy, with an emphasis on environmental litigation, regulatory permitting, and environmental enforcement proceedings. In addition to representing individual clients in hazardous waste, Clean Air Act, and multi-media enforcement and permitting proceedings, he has chaired Superfund site steering committees, served as group counsel to steering committees and industry groups in environmental litigation, and served as a mediator in complex multi-party litigation. Mike can be reached at mhockley@spencerfane.com


Secretary: Mary Ellen Ternes

Mary Ellen Ternes is a member of Earth and Water Law, LLC.  After an initial career as a chemical engineer in environmental air and waste permitting, compliance, incident response and remediation, she became an environmental lawyer serving as strategic compliance and enforcement defense counsel in permitting, enforcement and other actions involving air and water pollution, drinking water safety, incident response, waste management and Superfund actions before state and federal agencies and courts, and where compliance and pollution issues arise in transactions and development.  She can be reached at maryellen.ternes@earthandwatergroup.com.




Immediate Past President: James A. Bruen 

James A. Bruen is a senior partner in Farella Braun + Martel’s Environmental Law Department and Product Law Department.  Mr. Bruen has more than 40 years of criminal and civil litigation and business counseling experience.  He counsels a wide array of industrial, academic and governmental, institutions. He often represents them nationally and internationally in complex products and environmental litigation.  As incoming President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, he hosted the College’s 2016 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been, and will continue to be, active with other Fellows in organizing the College’s international pro bono efforts in eastern and southern Africa, China and Cuba. He chairs the College’s Executive Committee. His program for the 2016-2017 College Year will include further expansion of the College’s domestic and international programs, and advancing development of the College’s internal governance structures to prepare this dynamic institution for its future.  Mr. Bruen can be reached at JBruen@fbm.com.


History of ACOEL Officers

History of ACOEL Regents

History of ACOEL Annual Meetings

About Chairs

ELI Support for ACOEL