Professional Biography
Image of Karen McGaffey

Karen M. McGaffey Partner

Firmwide Chair, Environment, Energy & Resources

  • Seattle

    D +1.206.359.6368

    F +1.206.359.7368


    1201 Third Avenue, Suite 4900

    Seattle, WA 98101-3099




Karen McGaffey, chair of the firm’s nationwide Environment, Energy & Resources practice, has over 25 years of experience practicing environmental law. Karen assists clients with project development, permitting, compliance and regulatory matters under state and federal environmental and land use laws, and advises on the environmental aspects of corporate and real estate transactions. She also represents clients in environmental litigation, including Superfund cost recovery and natural resource damage actions, citizen suits, government enforcement actions and lawsuits challenging permits and regulatory developments.

With an emphasis on project development and facility siting, Karen counsels clients on the development of all types of energy facilities, including natural gas-fired power plants, wood-fired cogeneration facilities, wind and solar projects, electric transmission lines and pipelines.  She also helps permit major infrastructure and resource projects, including rail-to-vessel export terminals.

Karen regularly advises clients on legislative and regulatory policy matters concerning energy facility siting, climate change, renewable energy credits and renewable energy portfolio standards.

2020 Chamber USA Logo

Ranked by Chambers USA 11 Years in a Row

Professional Recognition

  • Fellow, American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers’ Seattle "Energy Law Lawyer of the Year," 2014
  • Chambers USA, “America’s Leading Environmental Lawyers," 2010 - 2020
  • Best Lawyers in America Energy Law; Environmental Law; Litigation - Environmental, 2010 - 2020
  • Washington's Super Lawyers, 2012 - 2020

Professional Leadership

  • Kellogg School of Management Strategic Leadership Program, Northwestern University
  • Perkins Coie Management and Executive Committees, 2011 - 2016
  • Environmental Law Institute, Boot Camp on Environmental Law Steering Committee, 2015
  • American Bar Association Section on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Committee on Water Quality, Vice Chair, 1997 - 2006

  • Northwest Women’s Law Center, Board of Directors, 1995 - 2001; President 1998 - 1999 

Related Employment

  • Bogle & Gates P.L.L.C., Seattle, WA, Member, 1997 - 1999; Associate, 1990 - 1997


  • Hon. George Lohr, Supreme Court of Colorado, 1989 - 1990





Bar and Court Admissions

  • Washington
  • Colorado
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington


  • Harvard Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1989, Editor and Developments Office Chair, Harvard Law Review
  • University of Cambridge, Queens College, Philosophy, 1985 - 86
  • Dartmouth College, A.B., Philosophy, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1985