Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Lawyer

Andy Irvine is a geologist turned natural resource lawyer who leads his clients through the challenges of project development and environmental compliance.

Andrew A. Irvine, 33
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Lawyer since 2006

Holland & Hart LLP, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

What is your educational background?
Lewis and Clark Law School – Juris Doctor
Colorado School of Mines – M.S. in Mineral Economics
University of Notre Dame – B.S. in Geological Sciences

Why did you become a lawyer?
I became a lawyer because I was inspired to find a better way to solve the problems facing development projects. Working as a geologist earlier in my career, I saw a number of projects held up by litigation over environmental issues. After substantial delay and cost, for both the project proponent and the environmental advocate, the end result of litigation was typically a settlement or a decision by the court that found a middle ground. The entire process seemed wasteful to me. Rather than focusing efforts to avoid or minimize impacts to the resource at issue, time and money were spent “papering” the issue. I seek to find workable solutions to the issues facing development projects without the wasteful time and cost and by avoiding protracted litigation.

What are your job responsibilities?

I am fortunate to work on a wide variety of environmental and mining issues.  Part of my practice involves assisting clients with traditional mining issues concerning title, permitting and taxation. Often, these issues are presented during due diligence review for a mining transaction, but also involve administrative review before the Interior Board of Land Appeals and litigation in state and federal court. I counsel both mining clients and others through permitting of development projects, including National Environmental Policy Act review and compliance with the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other wildlife protection statutes. I also work with a host of federal agencies on a number of environmental, permitting and other issues for mining and grazing clients.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that no two days are ever the same.  I am fortunate to work on such a wide variety of complex and exciting projects that I remain interested in and challenged by my work.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is the time and rigor it requires.  It’s a constant struggle to balance personal well-being and interests with the time requirements and demands of my job.

What is the best part of working in the mining industry?
I thoroughly enjoy working with the people in the mining industry.  Dare I say, they are more down to earth than people in other industries (pun intended).

Any advice to students considering entering industry?
The people you work with are important and the mining industry has some of the best.  The mining industry is also global and becomes more and more so every day.  As a result, you get to work on issues that span the globe and you may even get to travel the globe.