Susannah T. French

Susannah T. French joined the firm in 1993 and represents public entities and environmental groups throughout California on a wide range of environmental and land use issues, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), planning and zoning law, elections law, endangered species and habitat protection, and takings litigation.

photo by Liza Heider

Ms. French has represented clients in state and federal court, at both the trial court and appellate levels. She was a member of the firm’s prevailing team in two leading land use cases before the California Supreme Court, Orange Citizens for Parks & Recreation v. Superior Court (2016) 2 Cal. 5th 141, which upheld local initiative rights and general plan principles, and Big Creek Lumber Company v. County of Santa Cruz (2006) 38 Cal.4th 1139, which upheld the validity of county timber harvesting regulations against a preemption challenge. She was also part of the SMW team representing the City of Long Beach in City of Long Beach v. City of Los Angeles (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 465, a CEQA action challenging the approval of a large railyard immediately adjacent to the residential community of West Long Beach.

She has also worked on numerous cases successfully defending public entities against takings and other constitutional claims, including Tahoe-Sierra Pres. Council, Inc .v. Tahoe Reg'l Planning Agency (9th Cir. 2003) 322 F.3d 1064 and Toigo v. Town of Ross (1998) 70 Cal.App.4th 309.

Ms. French has represented community and environmental groups in litigation to enforce CEQA, NEPA, California elections law, and state planning and zoning laws. She has also advised public entities, including the University of California Board of Regents, the Alameda Waste Management Authority, the East Bay Regional Park District, the Sacramento Regional Flood Control Agency, and numerous cities and counties on compliance with environmental, planning, and government laws.

Ms. French graduated from University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 1993, where she was a member of the Ecology Law Quarterly and the California Law Review, and from Harvard University, magna cum laude, in 1988. She is also the author of Operation Redwood (Amulet Books, 2009), winner of the Green Earth Book Award for Children’s Fiction and the California Library Association's John and Patricia Beatty Award.

Ms. French is member of the Bars of the State of California, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.