Quentin Pair

Adjunct Professor


Quentin Pair served as Senior Trial Attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), from 1980 to 2015.  In that position, he was the lead counsel representing the United States in civil enforcement actions alleging violations of federal environmental statues, including the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C.  § 1251 et seq., the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C.  § 7401 et seq., and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9601 et seq.  He also served as the Department’s Environmental Justice Coordinator and represented the Department as a senior career representative on the Federal Interagency Workgroup on Environmental Justice (IWG) (established under Presidential Executive Order 12898 [1994]) until his retirement from USDOJ in 2015.  From 2000 to 2007, he was Chairman for the IWG’s Native American Native Task Force.  From 1998 to 1999, he was detailed from USDOJ as Senior Attorney Advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Office of Environmental Justice.  From 2011 to 2012, he was detailed on special assignment from USDOJ to the Office of the USEPA Administrator as Special Advisor on matters involving Environmental Justice and issues involving Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  During his tenure with the Department, he was appointed and served as Special Prosecutor in cases referred by USEPA to USDOJ for criminal violations of federal environmental statutes.  A recognized expert in the field of Environmental Justice, he has lectured before and, consulted extensively on these issues, federal, state and tribal governments, NGOs, academia, industry, and the general public.

Mr. Pair is founding Chair of the USDOJ Association of Black Attorneys.  From 2005 to 2010, he served as founding Co-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Diversity and Environmental Justice.  Since 2004, he has been appointed Adjunct Professor at Howard University School of Law, where he teaches Environmental Law and Environmental Justice. 

From 1971 to 1976, Mr. Pair was Senior Litigator for the law firm of Bellen, Bailey, & Belli in Frankfurt, West Germany, where he specialized in representing U.S. military personnel in hundreds of criminal proceedings throughout Europe before U.S. Courts Marshal under the Unified Code of Military Justice.  From 1976 to 1980, he was Senior Associate in the law firm of Ridley & McClain in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in the representation of criminal defendants before the District and Federal Courts.

Mr. Pair received his Juris Doctorate at Boston University School of Law in 1971.

Selected Awards:

2013 ABA Environment, Energy, and Resources Section Award for Dedication to Diversity and Justice                

         2014 Burton Award for Public Service in Government

         2015 US DOJ Environmental Justice Legacy Award

         2015 Federal Interagency Working Group Pioneers in Environmental Justice Award

         2019 Sierra Club Robert Bullard Environmental Justice Award