About James

James Graves is an attorney in the Environmental practice group. James advises clients on all aspects of state and federal cleanups of contaminated sites, including sites subject to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA). James advises clients working with regulators through all phases of site investigation and remediation, and helps clients pursue cost recovery or contribution actions through litigation and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. James’ experience includes equitable allocation proceedings at complex, multi-party sediment cleanup sites. James also advises clients regarding the environmental aspects of real estate and business transactions, including negotiating protective contractual terms and securing agreements that limit liability. James also has experience advising municipal and industrial clients regarding low carbon clean fuel standards and greenhouse gas (GHG) reducing clean air rules proposed in recent years in Washington State. James has also helped clients with regulatory compliance and litigation under federal and state environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Expand to Read More + See Less -


  • Port of Seattle, Lower Duwamish and Harbor Island Waterways Superfund Sites: Assisting with the CERCLA investigations and cleanups of two major Superfund sediment sites as well as Port cost recovery efforts related to those sites. Assisting also with investigations and cleanups of properties adjacent to the Lower Duwamish Waterway under CERCLA and Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA).
  • Advising Fortune 500 industrial client regarding proceedings under MTCA.
  • Advised owners and operators of industrial sites regarding release reporting requirements under MTCA.
  • Advised large Western Washington county regarding Puget Sound Clean Air Agency’s (PSCAA) proposed clean fuel standard.
  • Advised industrial operators regarding Alaska cleanup law and regulations, and contract provisions to manage liability and risk.
  • Assisted with federal court litigation involving fishing company’s challenges to individual transferable quota program under Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
  • Assisted with federal court litigation involving challenge to agency regulations implementing amendments to a fishery management plan issued pursuant to the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
  • Assisted with federal court litigation involving trade association’s defense of MMPA incidental take regulations.
  • Advised industrial client on Washington Department of Ecology’s proposed Clean Air Rule and assisted client in submitting comments on the draft rule.
  • Assisted composting facility in permitting negotiations with the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
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Honors & Activities

  • Included in Best Lawyers®: Ones to Watch (Environmental Law), 2021
  • Member, Washington State Bar
  • Member, King County Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • CALI Excellence for the Future awards (top exam) in Environmental Law, Property, and Contracts
  • 2014 Legal Practice Scholar Award recipient, William & Mary Law School
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • “Ethics in Environmental and Land Use Practice,” 2019 Environmental and Law Use Law Section Midyear Meeting & Conference, Washington State Bar Association, May 2019
  • “Civil Judicial Enforcement” (coauthor), The Clean Water Act Handbook, 4th ed., 2018

Related News & Publications

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