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Sandi L. Nichols

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Sandi L. Nichols, Leader of the firm’s Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group, practices in the areas of environmental, natural resources and land use counseling and litigation, primarily handling compliance and litigation under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) and related state statutory and common laws, as well as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). She has handled all phases of litigation through mediation, trial and appeal in state and federal courts throughout California.  

Sandi serves as lead counsel in complex, multi-party CERCLA and CWA/RCRA citizen-suit litigation relating to contaminated soil, groundwater, surface water and marine sediments. Her cases have included litigation involving petroleum hydrocarbon contamination, metals, PCBs, PAHs, and VOCs from various industrial operations, shipyards, energy and refinery facilities, bulk fuel terminals, truck stop and service station operations and port-related uses; manufactured gas plant wastes; dioxin; petroleum coke; chemical use and disposal at industrial and commercial office facilities; battery reclamation; and discharges from publicly-owned treatment works and dams. She also has handled indoor air quality litigation and environmental insurance coverage matters.

Sandi assists clients with environmental due diligence and contract negotiations for the sale and leasing of contaminated sites, including counseling clients on the investigation and remedial approaches to vapor intrusion, mold and asbestos issues and the procurement of environmental liability insurance policies. She has assisted institutional trustees in the management of environmentally-impaired trust and estate assets and has litigated eminent domain actions and title and boundary disputes.

Prior to joining Allen Matkins in 2007, Sandi was the Managing Partner of the California Offices of Stoel Rives LLP (2001-2006). She began her legal career with Washburn, Briscoe & McCarthy in 1981 and was its Managing Shareholder from 1996 until the merger with Stoel Rives in 2001.


  • State Bar of California, Sections on Litigation, Environment and Real Property
  • American Bar Association, Section on Natural Resources, Energy and Environment
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Environmental Law Section
  • Groundwater Resources Association

Community Activities

  • U.C. Hastings Alumni Board of Trustees (June 2015 – Present)
  • U.C. Hastings Alumni Board of Governors (June 2012 – June 2015)
  • Menlo School, National Mock Trial Competition, Attorney-Coach (2002 - 2008)
  • U.C. Hastings College of the Law Alumni Mentor Program, Mentor
  • Crocker School Site Council, Crocker Middle School, Hillsborough, CA, Chair (1999 - 2001)
  • The Carey School, San Mateo, CA, Trustee (1995 - 1998)
  • AYSO soccer coach, Burlingame, CA (1990 - 1997)
  • Carey School Parents Association, President (1994 - 1995)


  • Named the Best Lawyers' San Francisco Environmental Litigation "Lawyer of the Year" (2018)
  • Selected as a Northern California Real Estate Woman of Influence Honoree (2017)
  • Recognized by Chambers USA as one of the Leading Lawyers in California in Environmental Law (2013 - 2018)
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Environmental Law and Litigation - Environmental (2009 - 2019)
  • Selected for inclusion to Legal Leader’s San Francisco's Women Leaders in the Law (2014)
  • San Francisco Business Times Best Lawyers in the Bay Area (2009 - 2012)
  • San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco’s Top Attorneys (2010 - 2012)
  • Named among the Top 100 Attorneys in Northern California by Super Lawyers (2012, 2018)
  • Named among the Top 50 Women Attorneys in Northern California by Super Lawyers (2012 - 2018)
  • Super Lawyers Northern California in Environmental Litigation (2004 - 2018)
  • Recognized in Top Rated Lawyers-AV® Preeminent™ Guide to Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Law (2012)
  • Martindale-Hubbell® A-V Preeminent Rating
  • Recognized in Martindale-Hubbell® Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers™
  • Stanford University Mediation Certificate (1994)
  • Who’s Who Legal: Environment (2014 - 2018)
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • Who's Who of Emerging Leaders of America


Rated by Super Lawyers


Sandi received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1978. She received her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of the Law in 1981. While at U.C. Hastings, she served as the Associate Research Editor for COMM/ENT Law Journal (1980 - 81) and as a Teaching Assistant for Criminal Law (1979-80). Sandi was also a recipient of the U.C. Newhouse, U.C. Towne, and 1066 Foundation Scholarships. Sandi also received a Certificate from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution – Pepperdine Law, Mediating the Litigated CaseTM  in August 2014.

Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit