Kathleen M. Brill


Shaping the natural and built environment through permitting complex development and navigating environmental challenges. 

Kathleen Brill concentrates her practice on complex environmental and land use matters and leverages her environmental consulting and real estate development experience to assist clients in property acquisition and development, with a focus on siting and permitting complex projects, structuring transactions to manage environmental risk, compliance counseling, and dispute resolution.

Recognized by Chambers USA as a leading practitioner of environmental law, Kathleen is passionate about helping clients shape the built environment and respond to environmental challenges. Whether siting a fusion demonstration facility at a former military installation, creating a cultural destination on the downtown waterfront, securing funding for public infrastructure to support a commercial development, or renovating a recreational facility adjacent to environmentally sensitive wetlands, Kathleen helps clients plan, site, and permit complex projects, and obtain environmental, land use, and other regulatory approvals at the local, state, and federal levels.   

When clients are considering acquiring properties, Kathleen helps them understand and evaluate environmental conditions and structure transactions in a protective manner. From energy assets to industrial facilities to environmentally contaminated properties, Kathleen performs environmental and land use due diligence, negotiates indemnities and warranties, and advises on risk management including environmental insurance coverage.

When environmental challenges arise, Kathleen provides her clients with strategic advice that achieves compliance goals while allowing their businesses to thrive. Whether responding to enforcement actions, pursuing adjudicatory proceedings and administrative disputes, or defending against claims of environmental violations, Kathleen zealously advocates for her clients before government agencies, appeals boards and administrative bodies, and courts.  

Particular areas of expertise include zoning, wetlands and tidelands structures licensing, climate adaptation and resiliency, outdoor advertising, open space protections, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and state equivalent compliance, Clean Air Act permitting and compliance, and public incentives including tax credit and infrastructure bond financing applications.

Kathleen maintains an active pro bono practice, in which she has advised clients on issues related to climate resiliency, land use controls, open space preservation, and wetlands. She has also been recognized for her work on multiple cases seeking to protect the civil rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. Before joining Foley Hoag, Kathleen had considerable experience in the fields of urban planning, transportation planning, and environmental consulting. During law school, Kathleen served as an intern for the Honorable Gordon H. Piper of the Massachusetts Land Court.


  • Boston College Law School, J.D., magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, 2010
  • Harvard College, A.B., cum laude, 2004

Bar and Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit


  • Guiding leading developer of fusion energy through a site selection, permitting and environmental review and approval process to build a fusion demonstration facility on a former military brownfields site
  • Advising multiple power plant operators regarding regulatory compliance issues, including development and implementation of strategy to address water supply issues, development and implementation of strategy to pursue permit modifications to facilitate more efficient operations, addressing impact of planned plant closure on existing licenses and associated obligations, addressing and responding to Notices of Violation, and meeting requirements of Clean Air Act, Toxic Use Reduction Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
  • Representing owners of electric generating facilities in proceedings related to major capacity expansions and other matters before the Energy Facilities Siting Board 
  • Preparing power plant operators’ responses to EPA information requests under Section 114 of the Clean Air Act
  • Drafting inter-agency and private agreements for energy sector client to facilitate environmentally beneficial mitigation projects
  • Counseling energy sector clients on project planning and development strategy, including preparation of materials for presentation to MEPA, MassDEP, the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Developing detailed analysis for transmission generation client of all local, state, and federal permits required for construction
  • Preparing development feasibility analyses for multiple clients analyzing restrictions and opportunities under M.G.L. c. 40B (affordable housing), MA Article 97 (open space preservation), M.G.L. c.91 and Municipal Harbor Plans (waterfront development), and local zoning requirements
  • Advising multiple development sector clients on public financing incentives, including securing more than $40M in I-Cubed Infrastructure bond financing and $6M in Economic Development Incentive Program financing
  • Serving as project counsel and secured all necessary permits, approvals, and agreements for the development of a music theater in downtown Boston 
  • Representing multiple clients in development related proceedings before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal
  • Advising clients on compliance with local and state outdoor advertising and electronic signage regulations and securing permits and licenses for operation
  • Assisting golf course owner in acquiring all necessary permits and agreements to redesign golf course in environmentally sensitive area including wetlands and endangered species habitat
  • Counseling non-profit cultural institutions regarding anticipated climate change impacts on real estate holdings; permitting a new public park and developing strategies for funding same; and permitting a new exhibition space along waterfront
  • Assisting educational sector clients with strategy to interface with proposed public transportation infrastructure improvements adjacent to client’s campus; strategy to enhance drinking water supply capabilities; permitting a new boathouse and coordinating efforts of consultants on same
  • Assisting local redevelopment authority in negotiating agreements with private entities and making necessary zoning changes to facilitate downtown redevelopment project
  • Counseling local municipality regarding negotiation of agreements with private entities and state agencies to facilitate public/private smart growth development project
  • Managing real estate holding company’s environmental insurance portfolio policy, including overseeing the addition of all new property acquisitions to the portfolio
  • Assisting real estate holding company in all environmental aspects of acquisitions, sales, and refinancings, including conducting environmental due diligence and evaluating environmental indemnities
  • Advising multiple real estate holding companies in solicitation, evaluation and selection of environmental insurance policies to protect holdings
  • Developing and executing strategy for small property owner to achieve goals of protecting oceanfront property, preserving future development rights, and reducing property taxes and successfully negotiating a conservation restriction, achieving a local property tax abatement, and obtaining a state conservation land tax credit
  • Advising institutional client on development of a strategy to preserve and expand existing real estate holdings and evaluate potential future acquisitions
  • Advising state agency on applicability of Commonwealth’s Article 97 to proposed real estate transactions
  • Counseling multiple property owners regarding remediation of contaminated sites under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, including managing environmental consultants, supervising insurance recovery, and advising on vapor intrusion issues
  • Counseling multiple industrial clients in conduct of response actions at former manufacturing sites, including compliance, arbitrations, and disputes under M.G.L. c.21E (the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention Act) and CERCLA
  • Representing educational sector client before MassDEP in drinking water enforcement action
  • Representing industrial manufacturer in Clean Air Act environmental enforcement action and related proceedings before the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
  • Representing an owner of an electric power generating facility in a federal criminal environmental matter in the northeastern United States relating to the operation of air emissions monitoring equipment and related proceedings before the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Representing multiple owners of waterfront property in Ch. 91 jurisdictional disputes before MassDEP, the Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution, and various courts
  • Representing non-profit cultural institution before the Superior and Supreme Judicial Courts in dispute related to validity of Ch. 91 regulations
  • Representing non-profit environmental advocacy groups in proceedings before the MassDEP Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution regarding wetlands orders of conditions
  • Representing small property owner regarding development of a strategy to bring existing structures into compliance with wetlands and waterways regulations


  • Massachusetts Environmental Law, co-author of Massachusetts Clean Air Act chapter (MCLE, 2016, 2019, and 2021 editions)

Honors & Involvement

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2023)
  • Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 2019 Pro Bono Honor Roll (November 2020) 
  • Ranked by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business as one of Massachusetts' Leading Environmental Lawyers (2017-present)
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Excellence in the Law Award (2019)
  • Women’s Bar Association Women’s Leadership Initiative (2018)
  • Environmental Business Council of New England Ascending Leader Award (2017)
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Pro Bono Recognition Award (2014)
  • Foley Hoag Women’s Forum, Co-Chair
  • Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc., Member, Board of Directors
  • Climate Adaptation Forum, Steering Committee Member
  • The Trustees of Reservations, Corporate Trustee
  • Massachusetts Turnpike Air Rights Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Member
  • Fenway Civic Association, Vice President of the Board (2008-2018)
  • National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (Massachusetts Chapter), Member, Government Affairs Advisory Committee; Past Government Affairs Co-Chair and Member, Executive Committee  
  • Boston Bar Association, Environmental Section, Member
  • Women’s Bar Association, Member
  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Member

Speaking Engagements

  • Speaker, “The Business of the Business,” Environmental Business Council New England, EBC Site Remediation and Redevelopment Program, March 2020  
  • Speaker, “Environmental Aspects of Buying and Selling Energy Facilities,” Northeast Energy and Commerce Association Environmental 101 Seminar, April 2019 
  • Program chair, "Mastering Mixed-Use Developments: Lessons Learned from the Fenway, One of Boston’s Top Mixed-use Neighborhoods," MCLE webcast, July 2017