Molly Lawrence

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Molly counsels public and private clients in all matters related to land use and  development. She is highly-skilled at helping clients navigate overlapping and divergent federal, state and local statutes and regulations.  Her practice focuses on assisting clients in developing comprehensive permitting strategies, and counseling them through the regulatory process from project conception to construction.  When necessary to facilitate project development, Molly assists clients in drafting and advancing changes in the laws and regulations through the legislative and rule making processes.  In addition to permitting and legislative work, Molly regularly litigates land use and environmental matters before local governments, and in state and federal court.

Throughout her career, Molly has successfully represented both public and private entities in the permitting process for numerous medium and large scale commercial projects, including office parks, shopping centers, waterfront mixed use developments, and industrial parks.  In the last decade, Molly has developed a specialty helping clients address ongoing changes in the regulations affecting development within floodplains, including changes in floodplain mapping and evolving Endangered Species Act requirements. Early in her practice, Molly focused her efforts in telecommunications, appearing before dozens of tribunals as part of assisting several wireless telecommunication providers to launch and maintain their wireless networks in the Pacific Northwest. 

  • Experience
    • Co-lead counsel (with Joseph Nelson) supporting Clean Line Energy through the review and approval processes for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project, a 700 mile electrical transmission line that will bring wind energy from Texas and Oklahoma to Tennessee.  Issues range from: review and approval under Section 1222 of EPAct 2005; guiding development of the Environmental Impacts Statement under NEPA, negotiating a complex Programmatic Agreement under the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act, and permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act; and defending the project approvals in federal court.  
    • Provides counsel to several coalitions of industry groups and property owners in Washington and Oregon related to recent changes in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Responsibilities include: strategic counsel in response to several Biological Opinions issued by NOAA-Fisheries to FEMA regarding the effect of the NFIP on threatened and endangered species; advocacy with FEMA, NOAA-Fisheries, the federal legislative delegations in Washington and Oregon, and with hundreds of local governments participating in the NFIP regarding Endangered Species Act compliance; litigation in federal court challenging implementation of the Biological Opinions; and legislative advocacy related to the pending reauthorization of the NFIP.
    • Represents the City of Sumner in developing a comprehensive approach to addressing flood hazards presented by the White River.  Responsibilities include: coordinating the development of several complex floodplain and sediment transport models to assist in identifying flood risk; developing a multi-benefit approach to river management that addresses concerns about both flood risk and floodplain habitat for endangered fish species; coordinating with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the operation of the Mud Mountain Dam and the General Investigation for the Puyallup River; and assisting with permitting for a replacement bridge over the White River, including approvals from the Federal Highway Administration, and NEPA, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Historic Preservation Act review. 
    • Advises SECO Development with regard to its 17.5 acre mixed use development on Lake Washington in Renton. The development includes more than 750,000 square feet of Class “A” office space, 40,000 square feet of mixed commercial/retail/restaurant, over 330 luxury apartment units, and a 355-room luxury waterfront hotel. Responsibilities included: coordinating the SEPA EIS and Planned Action Ordinance; securing City approvals for a fifteen year Master Plan, three phase Site Plan, and several shoreline and construction permits; negotiating transportation mitigation agreements with the City; and negotiating agreements with neighbors to avoid project appeals.
    • Served as counsel to Tacoma Waterway LLC, in the development of a mixed use hotel project along the Foss Waterway.  Responsibilities included: securing several land use approvals, including shoreline permits, through the City of Tacoma, and successfully defending the project in litigation before the Washington Shorelines Hearing Board through the Washington State Supreme Court. 
    • Land use counsel to Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA/CREF) regarding a 20 acre office park/high-tech campus in Bothell, including federal, state and local approvals. 
  • Professional Affiliations

    King County Bar Association

    King County Flood Control Zone District

    Member, Citizen Advisory Committee

    National Women's Political Caucus - Washington

    Member, Steering Committee

    Registered Lobbyist, City of Seattle

    Seattle Yacht Club

    Judge Advocate, Legal Advisor to the Board

  • Awards & Honors
    "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers
    Environmental Law, 2012-2018
    Land Use & Zoning Law, 2013-2018
    Litigation-Environmental, 2012-2018
    Litigation-Land Use and Zoning, 2018
    Real Estate Law, 2013-2018
    "Super Lawyers" by Washington Super Lawyers Magazine
    2005, 2007-2017
    "Top 50 Women Super Lawyers," 2010-2012
    "Rising Star," 2004
    Super Lawyers
    2005; 2007-2017; 2019
    "Top 50 Women Super Lawyers," 2010-2012
    "Rising Star," 2004

    Seattle Best Lawyers' Environmental Lawyer of the Year


    Association of Washington Business Heavy Lifter Award


  • Government Service
  • News & Presentations
  • Thought Leadership


University of Wisconsin Law School J.D., cum laude, 1998

Vassar College B.A., cum laude, 1994