Lois Jane Schiffer (1993-2001)
Early History/Schooling: Lois J. Schiffer was born on February 22, 1945. She graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in the District of Columbia, and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1966 and Harvard Law School in 1969.
Tenure as AAG: On February 3, 1994, President Clinton nominated Schiffer to be Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. Schiffer served as Acting AAG during part of the period while she awaited confirmation, which occurred on October 6, 1994. Her goals as AAG included better developing the Division’s environmental crimes program and improving relationships with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the states. A review and restructuring of the Department’s environmental crimes program occupied much of Schiffer’s first years as AAG. Under Schiffer’s tenure, the Division also worked on timber issues and brought a number of landmark federal air pollution cases. Schiffer supported an overhaul of the Division’s budget, making the budgeting system more transparent. She established an active alternative dispute resolution program and an ethics program in the Division and supported pro bono work by Division attorneys. As AAG, Schiffer successfully argued United States v. Bestfoods, a case involving parent company liability under CERCLA, before the Supreme Court. She also successfully argued United States v. Olin Corp. (11th Cir.), which among other things involved a challenge to the retroactive application of CERCLA to waste sites created prior to the enactment of the statute. Schiffer left the Division at the end of the Clinton Administration in January 2001, and was one of the longest-serving AAGs of the Division.
Career: After graduating from law school, Schiffer clerked for the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She then joined the Center for Law and Social Policy as a staff attorney. In 1978, Schiffer joined the Land and Natural Resources Division as chief of the General Litigation Section under AAG Jim Moorman. During her time with the General Litigation Section, she managed a wide variety of litigation, including cases involving new mining regulations, water resources, dams, and the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. As a result of structural changes to the Division in the 1980s, Schiffer became special litigation counsel, and handled major Division cases. In 1984, Schiffer left the Justice Department and served as General Counsel for National Public Radio. After five years, she joined Nussbaum & Wald, working primarily on environmental litigation, and became a partner in the practice. In 1993, Schiffer served as a member of the Clinton Administration transition team at the Department of Justice. In August of that year, she became Deputy Assistant Attorney General to Acting AAG Myles Flint, and was subsequently nominated to be AAG.
Upon leaving the Division in January 2001, Schiffer worked for the Audubon Society, and then became a partner at Baach Robinson & Lewis. She later served as general counsel for the National Capital Planning Commission and as an adjunct professor of environmental law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Schiffer served as General Counsel of NOAA during the Obama Administration.
Personal: Schiffer received the Edmund J. Randolph Award for outstanding service at the Department of Justice. She has been a member of numerous boards and organizations in the environmental field. Schiffer has a life-long goal of visiting all 58 National Parks.
This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.