Matthew F. Pawa

Partner; Chair, Environmental Practice

Pawa is a pioneer in the use of tort theories against polluters, including the climate change cases American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut and Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp. He was named Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year in 2013 for his work representing the State of New Hampshire in a groundwater contamination case dealing with the gasoline additive MTBE that resulted in over $100 million in pre-trial settlements with some of the nation’s largest oil companies and a $236 million verdict against Exxon Mobil Corporation—the largest verdict in New Hampshire history


A pioneer of environmental litigation, Matt has been involved in many of the nation’s most important environmental cases for over 25 years. His 13-year lawsuit against more than a dozen oil companies for polluting New Hampshire groundwater resulted in the largest verdict in state history and Matt’s recognition as a 2013 Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year. His groundbreaking work with a group of eight state attorneys general and the City of New York in taking on the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities launched the first climate change tort case in 2004.

Matt has represented Vermont in litigation against 3M and Du Pont and for pollution of the state’s land and waters with PFAS—“forever chemicals.”  He also has represented New Hampshire in litigation against Monsanto for pollution of state waters with PCBs and the State of New Jersey in litigation against Sherwin Williams for leaving a toxic legacy behind when it closed shop on the largest paint manufacturing facility in the world.

Matt has defended Greenpeace U.S.A.’s right to protest Shell’s Arctic drilling and obtained a dismissal of all criminal charges against climate protesters Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara in the Lobster Boat Blockade case. He also represented the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund against the automobile industry in cases that upheld state greenhouse gas laws in California, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

Prior to entering private practice, Matt served as an assistant county prosecutor in Burlington, Vermont. He is the recipient of the national Scribes Award for excellence in legal writing and the Fred G. Leebron Prize for constitutional writing. Matt is a frequent speaker at law schools and bar association events and regularly appears in national news stories. Before attending law school, Matt worked as a river guide on raft trips in the western U.S. and studied environmental science at Cornell University’s SUNY College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is the host of the Mother Earth Podcast.

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • Vermont
  • Pennsylvania
  • District of Columbia
  • First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals
  • U.S. District Courts for the District of Washington D.C., District of Massachusetts, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Southern District of New York and the District of Vermont
  • Supreme Court of the United States

Memberships and Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • American Association for Justice
  • Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys
  • Boston Bar Association

Pro Bono

  • Board of Trustees, Center for International Environmental Law
  • Board of Advisors, Green Newton


  • State of New Hampshire v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 26 A.3d 266 (N.H. 2015). Upholding $236 million jury verdict following three-month trial against petroleum company for polluting state’s groundwater.
  • Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., 582 F.3d 309 (2d Cir. 2009). Reinstating global warming tort case filed by states and land trusts, rev’d on other grounds, 131 S. Ct. 2527 (2011).
  • State v. Hess Corp., 161 N.H. 426 (2011). Holding that, under parens patriae doctrine, a state suing a polluter for groundwater contamination may recover as damages the cost of treating private well contamination.
  • Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Inc. v. Energy Facilities Siting Bd., 457 Mass. 663 (Mass. 2010). Upholding state environmental permits for Cape Wind
  • New Hampshire v. N. Atlantic Refining, Ltd., 999 A.2d 396 (N.H. 2010). Upholding personal jurisdiction over oil company in MTBE litigation.
  • New Hampshire v. Hess Corp., 982 A.2d 388 (N.H. 2009). Affirming proper service of process on two oil company defendants in MTBE litigation.
  • In re Inquest Proceedings, 676 A.2d 790 (Vt. 1996). Rejecting claim of parent-child privilege and compelling parental testimony in rape case.

*Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome in any future matter.


*No aspect of the advertisements below has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. A description of the standard or methodology for each honor, award, or accolade listed below can be found here.

  • Award

    Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental & Energy Lawyers, 2021

    Matt has been selected for inclusion on Lawdragon’s 2021 list of Lawdragon 500 Leading Environmental & Energy Lawyers. This guide, first published in 2007 by Lawdragon Inc., presents Lawdragon’s opinion of “the best of the U.S. plaintiff bar who specialize in representing individual investors and shareholders, as well as businesses and other organizations harmed by corporate misconduct or other failures.” Lawdragon’s selection methodology is based on a combination of objective criteria including research of top verdicts and settlements, peer recognition, and interviews with lawyers throughout the country. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

  • Award

    Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year, 2013

    Matt has been selected for as one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly “Lawyers of the Year” in 2013. These awards, presented by the magazine, are selected by the Lawyers Weekly editorial department. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

  • Award

    American Lung Association Healthy Air Ambassador Award, 2011

    No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

  • Award

    Certificate of Recognition for Best Papers, American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, 38th Annual Conference on Environmental Law, 2009

    No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

  • Award

    Scribes Notes and Comments Award, 1993

    No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

  • Award

    Fred G. Leebron Prize, University of Pennsylvania, 1993

    No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Publications & Presentations

  • Presenter, “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us: Interstate Pollution and Federalism under Milwaukee I and Milwaukee II,” American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources; March 2009
  • Keynote speaker, Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon Law School, 2009
  • Op-ed author, “Saving Detroit – From Itself,” Boston Globe, November 17, 2008
  • Cover story author, “Global Warming Litigation Heats Up,” Trial Magazine, April 2008
  • Chapter author, “Global Warming: The Ultimate Public Nuisance,” Creative Common Law Strategies for Protecting the Environment, edited by Clifford Rechtschaffen et al., Environmental Law Institute, 2007
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Climate Change Law and Policy Seminar, Boston College Law School, 2007
  • Coauthor, “Behind the Curve: The National Media’s Reporting on Global Warming,” 33 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 485, 2006
  • Coauthor, “Global Warming as a Public Nuisance: Connecticut v. American Electric Power,” 41 Fordham Environmental Law Review 407, 2005
  • Keynote speaker, Boston College Law School’s first annual Green Week, 2010
  • Author, “When the Supreme Court Restricts Constitutional Rights, Can Congress Save Us?,” 141 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1029, 1993


Since its establishment in 1999, Seeger Weiss has led some of the most complex and high-profile litigations in the U.S.