Tom Collier is probably the only lawyer in the mining sector today who has litigated natural resources cases for more than 20 years in a private law firm, run a major federal agency that determines natural resource policy and issues permits, and served as the CEO of a mining company embroiled in permitting controversies. This rare combination of public and private experiences makes him especially qualified to provide strategic advice to the mining sector regarding the most critical question in the industry today – “Can a particular US project get permitted and, if so, what is the best strategy to make it happen?”
As a partner in an international law firm, Tom advised many clients on natural resources matters, including advising ConocoPhillips’ permit application for the Alpine project, and Alyeska’s permit renewal application for the Trans-Alaska pipeline. As the chief of staff and the chief operating officer of the Department of the Interior (DOI), he supervised many National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, including two of the most controversial of that era – the spotted owl/timber crisis and a nationwide rewrite of grazing regulations. As the CEO at Pebble Mine, he saw the company through a project redesign, permit application and favorable Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
His experience at the DOI was expansive and led to client representations across many parts of its broad focus, including endangered species, offshore oil spills and accidents, oil lease sales, national park concessions, American Indian tribal membership issues, gaming and many more.
Tom also developed a practice focused on settling complex litigation. He uses sophisticated computerized tools to assess the merits and potential damages in a case, to design settlement strategy and to negotiate settlements on behalf of clients. He has settled well over 200 cases using this unique approach. Clients have included Motorola, Western Union, LGE, Sara Lee, Kellogg, ConocoPhillips, Syngenta, Lucent, Nortel, etc.
Early in his career, Tom served as a deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and clerked on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Charles Clark from 1975 to 1976. He received his JD from the University of Mississippi Law School in 1975, where he was the editor-in-chief of the Mississippi Law Journal and selected as the Outstanding Law School Graduate. He received his BA from the University of Virginia in 1972, where he was student body president.