Overview

Mary Ann “Annie” Mullin focuses her practice on environmental law, including civil litigation, compliance counseling and transactional support.

Annie represents clients in high-stakes environmental litigation, with a special emphasis on Federal and State enforcement brought under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act; Appeals of Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act permits issued by state and local environmental agencies; and private and government cost recovery and contribution actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Annie’s approach to litigation is both client-driven and results-oriented. She works with each client at the outset of each engagement to size the risk, evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various options, aggressively identify and pursue contributions from third parties, and maximize negotiation opportunities. Drawing from her own experience and that of her Schiff Hardin colleagues, she is able to identify effective expert witnesses and implement proven trial tactics that generate successful outcomes for her clients.

Annie’s counsel helps clients to both understand their environmental compliance obligations and also quantify potential environmental risks to the organization. She helps clients identify the optimal strategies and terms for permitting and designing cost-effective approaches to compliance. A keen focus on identifying improvements to compliance processes in order to maximize her client’s defenses in potential enforcement actions, avoid criminal liability, and prevent repeat violations is at the heart of her compliance practice.

In addition, Annie guides manufacturers and distributors through the developing area of product stewardship mandates, including compliance with domestic and international product content standards and regulations, and the constraints on environmental marketing.

Annie has extensive experience in assisting buyers, sellers and lenders with analyzing, assessing and allocating the environmental risks associated with domestic and international mergers, acquisitions and real estate transactions. Highly skilled at assessing and communicating environmental risk, she is readily able to provide clients with options to mitigate risk so the deal can be closed.

A nationally recognized thought leader, Annie’s recommendations for practical environmental compliance have been quoted by publications such as Forbes and Ethanol Producer Magazine.

  • Experience

    • Annie acts as environmental counsel for a retail client with more than 100 locations nationwide. In this capacity, she negotiates Clean Water Act permits, supervises environmental litigation, develops environmental policies and procedures, negotiates environmental provisions of transactions, assists with hiring environmental consultants, assists in representing the company at zoning hearings and advises the client on SEC disclosure obligations.
    • The general counsel of a Fortune 500 company hired Annie to audit the company’s manufacturing facilities, located in 12 states, for compliance with Clean Air Act Operating Permit requirements. She met with plant managers and environmental professionals at each facility to assess compliance practices, train personnel on Operating Permit requirements and make recommendations for improvement. Her findings were reported to the Board of Directors, resulting in the adoption of significant system-wide changes to enhance strategic permitting, improved documentation of environmental compliance, and decreased cost of compliance.
    • Annie routinely assists clients in responding to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigations and enforcement actions brought pursuant to the Clean Air Act. She has been successful in limiting the scope of these investigations, identifying and protecting trade secret information and creatively resolving alleged violations at the administrative level. Her clients have included electric power generators, boat manufacturers, glass manufacturers, ethanol producers and scrap dealers.
    • When Annie defended a manufacturing client against a demand by the United States for cost recovery under CERCLA, her investigation of the historic facts revealed that the company was not a PRP at the Superfund site. As a result, neither EPA nor other parties have pursued cost recovery or contribution against the client.
    • Annie has developed a model to train plant managers to effectively supervise employees responsible for environmental compliance and to teach management how to conduct the statutorily required “reasonable inquiry” before submitting reports to state and federal environmental agencies. 
  • Credentials

    Education

    • University of Wisconsin Law School, J.D., 1989, Articles Editor, Wisconsin Law Review
    • Lawrence University, B.A., History, 1984

    Bar Admissions

    • Illinois
      • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

          Professional Memberships

          American Bar Association

          Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources

           

          Chicago Bar Association

        • Insights

          Other Publications

          "The FTC's Revised Green Guides: Red Lights, Yellow Lights, and Green Lights for Marketers," (co-author) Bloomberg BNA - Antitrust & Trade Regulation Report (October 5, 2012) and Bloomberg BNA – Daily Environmental Report (October 17, 2012)

          "Policing Green Claims," (co-author) Natural Resources & Environment (Spring 2012)

          Speeches & Presentations

          "USEPA Enforcement Initiative against Ethanol Manufacturers: Protecting Your Company and Yourself," 29th Annual International Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo, St. Louis, Mo. (June 12, 2013)

          "Environmental Drivers in the Energy Sector," 19th Annual FERC Briefing, Richmond, Va. (May 29, 2013)

          "Marketing Your Products as 'Green' but Avoiding the Pitfalls," Schiff Hardin & ERM Seminar (September 27, 2011)

          "An Overview of EPA Regulations," Energy Issues Summit, Minnesota Rural Electric Association, St. Cloud, Minn. (August 10, 2011)

          "Using Litigation and Permitting as a Tool for Climate Change Regulation," Changes in Environmental Law: A Look at Recent and Emerging Environmental Regulations and their Impact, The Seminar Group, Chicago, Ill. (July 24, 2009)

        • Citizenship

          Pro Bono Activities

          Mary Ann’s pro bono activities have included assisting the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, working with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and representing firefighters in claims before the 9/11 Commission.

          Civic and Charitable Memberships

          HealthConnect One

          Past Member, Board of Directors