Professional Biography

Michael Dunning Partner

  • Seattle

    D +1.206.359.3464

    F +1.206.359.4464


    1201 Third Avenue, Suite 4900

    Seattle, WA 98101-3099




Michael Dunning is an environmental attorney whose practice focuses on helping clients solve complex challenges arising from land, water and air pollution, and he has particular depth of experience in the area of contaminated sites (aka “dirty dirt”). Mike previously served for more than a decade as an assistant attorney general for the State of Washington and acted as lead counsel on some of the state’s most challenging and complex contaminated sites and cases.

As the former Section Chief of the Washington Attorney General’s Hazardous Waste Cleanup section, Mike was responsible for a 10-attorney team that provided advice and litigation support to the state’s Department of Ecology on all aspects of contaminated sites. He offers an insider’s understanding when providing innovative and effective solutions to business, local government and nonprofit clients in litigation, transactional and permitting matters. Mike’s depth of knowledge on Washington’s superfund law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA), includes experience as an expert witness.

For clients with cleanup sites and brownfield redevelopment projects, Mike has negotiated numerous complex settlements under state and federal cleanup laws, which have allowed contaminated properties to be successfully redeveloped. Mike has pioneered a new approach to brownfield cleanup and funding for nonprofit affordable housing developers that clears traditional obstacles to contaminated site redevelopment in this underserved area.

Additionally, Mike has favorably resolved enforcement actions brought by government regulators and citizen groups. His litigation background includes advocacy before administrative boards and in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels.

Environmental compliance audits are also part of Mike’s practice. He assists clients in a wide range of industries in assessing compliance with environmental permits and regulations, as well as helping clients design and implement environmental management systems and to achieve ISO certification.

Mike’s experience includes counseling and representing clients in an array of federal and state laws and regulations. These include:

  • Federal and Washington Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA)
  • CERCLA, the federal cleanup law, and Washington’s superfund law, the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and its Washington counterpart, the Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA), Washington's authorized program
  • Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and similar Washington laws that regulate chemicals in consumer products
  • Washington's solid waste management laws
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its Washington counterpart, the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)
  • Natural Resource Damages

Mike represents clients in many industries, including manufacturers, food and beverage makers, technology companies, energy companies, solid waste & recycling companies, apparel makers, sports and entertainment, local governments, both for-profit and nonprofit developers, transportation companies, mining companies, natural resource companies and agribusiness. In recent months, Mike has been presenting programs about new approaches to brownfields redevelopment and on updates to Washington’s Children’s Safe Product Act. Mike is a U.S. Army veteran, and he serves on the board of directors of the Washington Trails Association and the Washington Business Alliance.

Professional Recognition

  • Ranked by Chambers USA, as “America’s Leading Environmental Lawyers," 2021
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America 2015 - 2022: Environmental Law
  • Listed in Who’s Who Legal: Environment, 2019
  • "Rising Star," Washington Law & Politics, 2007; 2009
  • Recommended by The Legal 500: Industry Focus: Environmental - transactional and regulatory, 2015

Professional Leadership

  • Washington State Bar Association, Environmental & Land Use Law Section, 2012 Annual Midyear Meeting & CLE Program, Co-Chair, 2012
  • Washington Real Property Deskbook, Volume 7: Environmental Regulation, Editor-in-Chief
  • Washington State Attorney General Office 2007 Outstanding Employee
  • Washington State Attorney General Office 2010 Outstanding Litigation Team Award

Community Involvement

  • Washington State Trails Association, Board Member
  • Washington Business Alliance, Board Member
  • Seattle Stand Down, Emeritus Board Member

Related Employment

  • Attorney General of Washington, Olympia, WA, Assistant Attorney General, 1999 - 2004; Chief, Hazardous Waste Cleanup & Management Section, 2005 - 2011
  • Department of Health, Olympia, WA, Assistant Director for Policy and Legislation, 2004 - 2005
  • United States Army Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Veteran, 1986 - 1991





Bar and Court Admissions

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


  • The University of Iowa, J.D., cum laude, 1999
  • University of Texas at San Antonio, B.A., Political Science, German, 1995