Margaret A. Coughlin

Retired Member

Education & Credentials


Northern Michigan University

B.S., 1973
  • magna cum laude

Wayne State University

J.D., 1975
  • cum laude

Bar Admission

  • Michigan1976


  • Michigan Super Lawyers®
    • Litigation - Environmental, 2009-2021
  • Best Lawyers in America®
    • Environmental Law, Litigation - Environmental, 2009-2021
    • "Lawyer of the Year," Litigation - Environmental, 2021

Representative Clients

  • American Golf Corporation
  • Connor Forest Industries
  • Breitburn Energy Partners L.P.
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Magna International Inc.
  • M & M Energy LLC
  • Quicksilver Resources Inc.
  • Tachi-S Engineering U.S.A., Inc

Prominent Assignments

Secured for energy client performing audits of multiple facilities audit privilege protection and defense under Michigan audit privilege law and federal audit privilege policy.

Assisted client with due diligence, grant application and permitting for a integrated combined cycle coal gasification plant.

Served as environmental compliance counsel for major oil and gas producer with operations in Michigan, Indiana and Kansas.

Successfully assisted energy and other clients with trading air emissions credits including experience with the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Represented a refinery in class action toxic tort actions.


Permitting, Compliance and Enforcement

Lead environmental attorney for one of Michigan’s largest oil and gas extraction companies. Assisted client with regulatory permitting, compliance and enforcement matters relating to gas, water, solids, air emissions and NORM. Experience related to issues involving, among other things, natural gas processing plants, gas flaring, preventative maintenance and leak containment, production water, site abandonment including plugging wells, site remediation and restoration, collection line leaks, release reporting, injection wells, drilling muds and sour gas. Also represented client in toxic tort and property damage matters.

Oil and Gas Spills

Lead Michigan environmental attorney on several oil and gas releases including the largest inland oil spill in the United States, largest release from a tanker into navigable waters in Michigan, two incidents where there were major releases from a fire at a chemical tank farm and a shipping accident involving a Great Lakes oil tanker, and numerous oil and gas releases from inland tanks and piping.

Oil & Gas Toxic Tort Litigation

Extensive experience with class action and multiparty litigation involving environmental contamination from refineries and pipeline transportation including selection, preparation, defense and cross-examination of expert witnesses.


Represented refinery in environmental class actions.

Common counsel to several groups in environmental enforcement matters in Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan.

Defense counsel in toxic tort litigation involving fuel oil release in Michigan.

Defended automobile manufacturer in property damage actions.

Successfully represented client in National Environmental Protection Act challenge.


Served as on-scene counsel during two of the largest environmental incidents in Michigan involving fires, deaths, personal injury, business interruption, emergency response, release reporting, natural resource damages and toxic torts.

Common counsel or lead counsel at several CERCLA clean-up sites throughout the United States and Part 201 facilities in Michigan.

Defended numerous clients in air, water, soil, wetlands, hazardous waste and OSHA compliance matters.

Negotiated two major sediment clean-ups.

Obtained a site-specific SIP, appealed Title V permit conditions, and negotiated numerous air, water, wastewater and wetlands permits.

Oversaw environmental due diligence in major real estate transactions and corporate acquisitions and divestitures.

Professional Involvement

  • Air & Waste Management Association
    • Current and Past Chair, East Michigan Chapter
    • Co-Chair Management 2009 Annual Conference & Exhibition, Air & Waste Management Association  
  • Detroit Regional Chamber, Environmental and Energy Policy Committees
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association, Air Quality Advisory Committee
  • American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources

Community Involvement

  • The Roeper School Board of Trustees (2003-present)
  • Sustainability Policy Committee Chair (2008-2009)
  • YWCA Camp Cavell Support Committee
  • Zajaczek Dance, 2008 Graduates' Ball Chair

Previous Employment

  • Detroit Edison (1976-1978)
  • Ford Motor Company (1978-1988)


  • Editor, News and Notes, East Michigan Chapter Air & Waste Management Association (2007-2008)
  • "Iberdrola Renewables Eyes Wind Farm Development", Next Energy E-News Update, Spring 2008
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