Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Veteran attorney Michael Elam brings more than three decades of experience in environmental, energy, infrastructure and natural resource law in both the private and public sectors. He structures creative agreements and helps secure approvals and financing for complex national and international agreements involving the development, remediation and financing of environmentally challenged or controversial projects surrounding energy and sensitive water bodies or sources.
Michael represents businesses and other clients in complex projects and transactions, disputes and litigation. He is known for helping clients obtain creative and cutting-edge agreements, particularly with respect to infrastructure and energy-related international projects. Michael offers deep experience in investigations, risk avoidance, risk allocation and dispute resolution with a chess vs. checkers approach to clients’ long-term goals. He is effective in working with federal, state and international governments and representing private sector clients seeking to secure approvals and financing for sensitive development projects or to resolve significant, complex claims.
Michael advises on virtually all aspects of acquiring, selling, developing, financing and leasing of properties, businesses or projects. He is particularly capable in matters involving environmental, water or energy concerns or complicated funding and delicate public relations and political issues, including international projects in conflict zones and politically frangible areas. Michael has counseled clients and coordinated teams addressing the siting, permitting, construction, sale and financing of traditional and renewable facilities, transmission lines, storage, refineries, pipelines and transportation infrastructure projects in the U.S. and internationally.
Notably, Michael possesses a keen understanding of the inner workings of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies and capital markets and has facilitated siting approvals, multiparty agreements and financing for projects. This includes substantial infrastructure projects and business transactions in challenging countries, including Iraq, where he worked with the U.S. State Department and represented the Government of Iraq in negotiations with numerous corporations, countries and NGOs on multibillion-dollar energy and infrastructure matters.
Prior to private practice, Michael held senior legal, managerial and technical positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 5 office in Chicago and at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. In Washington, he was special assistant to the assistant administrator for enforcement, handling special projects for the EPA, the Department of Justice and the U.S. Congress. He also served as acting deputy regional counsel for the EPA Region 5, Chicago office. He served as lead counsel on some of the EPA’s largest cases. Prior to becoming an attorney, Michael worked in a technical capacity for the EPA and for the state of Indiana.
Michael’s long career has been about integrity, hard work and being a straightforward communicator. His dedication to relationship-building and teaming at all levels has earned him a reputation for being helpful, service-oriented, respected and well-liked.
He is a frequent speaker on the topics of environmental, energy and natural resource law, policy, transactional and litigation issues for both public and private groups across the country and internationally. In addition, Michael has received recognition from numerous federal, state and local awards for his achievements and work.