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Sive, Paget & Riesel

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Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C.
HeadquartersNew York City, United States
No. of offices1
No. of attorneys26
Major practice areasEnvironmental law, Land use
Key peopleDavid Sive, founding partner
FounderDavid Sive
Company typeProfessional corporation

Sive, Paget & Riesel (SPR) is a law firm located in New York City primarily focusing on land use and environmental law. The firm is among the oldest environmental law firms in the United States, tracing its origins back over fifty years. The firm has been consistently ranked in the top tier of environmental law firms in New York.[1]

SPR is the successor firm to Winer, Neuberger & Sive, founded in New York City in 1962.[2]

SPR practices all aspects of environmental law, including litigation and environmental impact review, and represents numerous real-estate developers and municipalities in the New York metropolitan area. SPR counts among its clients the New York State Urban Development Corporation and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

SPR founding partner David Sive, who died in March 2014, was described by the Wall Street Journal as the "Father of Environmental Law."[3] In 1988, the New York Times called Sive "a pioneer in litigation to end pollution of New York's Hudson River" and "an elder statesman of environmental law."[4] In videotaped comments commemorating the firm's 50th anniversary, Sive recalled the firm's involvement in the "beginning of the modern environmental movement" and stated that "we took part in the creation of a new body of law." The firm, according to him, was the first "to bring any action under the Environmental Policy Act," in a case involving Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. The firm also"established ... the first committee on Environmental Law with the New York City Bar Association, which may have been the first in the country."[5]

Important cases[edit]

The Wall Street Journal has described SPR founding partner David Sive as having "won landmark rulings that stopped developments in coastal waters and helped keep parts of the Catskills and Adirondacks wild."[6] Professor Nick A. Robinson of Pace University stated that Sive, instead of despairing "about pollution and despoliation of nature...set out to do something about it. His early cases saved the Hudson River waterfront at Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow from having a super-highway put in the river bed off-shore. He did this before environmental legislation got adopted. Laws today prohibit siting a road in such a valuable river bed and estuaries".[7]

Beginning in the 1960s, Sive was involved in a landmark litigation to halt construction of a power plant on Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River. The case was among the first to establish a basic first principle of environmental law, legal standing to sue. The Storm King Mountain case "helped establish that aesthetics rather than direct economic damage could establish standing to bring an environmental lawsuit."[6] The case resulted in the establishment of Scenic Hudson, an environmental watchdog group.[7]

Sive played a key role in the successful fight against the Hudson River Expressway.[6] However Sive lost a 1971 case before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which he sought to stop a nuclear test explosion in Alaska.[6]


David Sive[edit]

SPR founding partner David Sive was a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Law Institute, and Environmental Advocates, and served as chairman of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.[6] He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, a founder of Friends of the Earth and Environmental Advocates of New York, a member of the board of directors of the Hudson Valley Institute and Scenic Hudson, and a multi-year chair of the annual ALI-ABA Conference on Environmental Law.[8] He established the first annual courses for lawyers in environmental law and environmental litigation. Sive won awards from the Environmental Law Institute, the New York State Environmental Planning Lobby, the Sierra Club, the New York State Bar Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the New York State Parks and Conservation Association.

After Sive's death, SPR partner Daniel Riesel described him as "a great litigator" and said that "To watch him in court was a thing of beauty. He was very low-key and he was very gracious, but when he had a point, he wouldn't let go."[9] Professor Nick Robinson of Pace University stated that "Sive was a brilliant litigator and could imagine legal strategies where no one else envisioned them. He persuaded courts to give remedies to those who sought to safeguard nature. He helped invent environmental law."[9] The New York State Bar remembered Sive after his death as "an intellectual and spiritual leader of the modern environmental law movement."[10] Another obituary of Sive stated that "it was his love of the outdoors and especially of the Catskills" that turned him toward environmental law. "As a teenager his growing love for the outdoors and fascination with the American wilderness, as well as his interest in the writings of Thoreau, Emerson and Wordsworth, led him to a lifelong passion for the natural environment, to wilderness preservation and environmental protection."[8]

William Ginsberg[edit]

Another attorney who practiced with SPR, William Ginsberg, was parks commissioner for New York City under mayor John Lindsay, and in 1979 successfully litigated the first case which established the tax-deductibility of the value of a conservation easement restricting development.[11]

Mark Chertok[edit]

Mark Chertok, a vice president of SPR, was recognized by Continental Who's Who in 2014 as a Pinnacle Professional of legal services for his role in environmental law. He focuses on environmental impact reviews, waterfront permitting and Brownfield redevelopment. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, and co-chair of its Committee on Environmental Impact Assessment. He also sits on the board of the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute.[12]


SPR has represented such clients as the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the waste-disposal company BFI Industries, Donald Trump, and New York City.[13] According to a 1988 article in New York Magazine, Donald Trump chose SPR as his law firm because he "was very impressed with David Paget."[14]

In January 2006, it was revealed that both the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City, the developer of the Atlantic Yards complex in Brooklyn, had retained SPR's services.[15]

In 2012 it was reported that the school district in Briarcliff Manor, New York, whose schools were located near contaminated sites, had hired SPR, the district's environmental counsel, as its legal defense team in a remediation case concerning the sites.[16]

Law Journal Award[edit]

The Sive, Paget & Reisel Law Journal Award is presented at New York University for the outstanding contribution to the Law Journal by a third-year editor and for the outstanding note by a Law Journal member.[17]

David Sive Memorial Fund[edit]

SPR founding partner David Sive died in March 2014, and in July of that year it was announced that the firm was endowing the David Sive Memorial Fund at his alma mater, Columbia Law School. Over a period of five years, the firm would donate $125,000 to support "lectures, colloquiums, and events on environmental law or issues pertaining to the study of environmental law." The fund would be administered by the Law School's Center for Climate Change Law.[18]

See also[edit]

  • David Sive
  • William Ginsberg
  • United States environmental law
  • boutique law firm

External links[edit]


  1. http://www.chambersandpartners.com/usa/Firms/70415-71141
  2. "David Sive". catskillmountainnews.com. Catskill Mountain News. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  3. Miller, Stephen. "In Remembrance: David Sive, Environmental Lawyer". www.wsj.com. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  4. Reinhold, Robert. "The Law; Coming of Age of the Environmental Lawyer". www.nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  5. "David Sive gives the history of Sive, Paget and Riesel for their 50th anniversary". Youtube.com. SIVE, PAGET & RIESEL P.C. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Miller, Stephen. "In Remembrance: David Sive, Environmental Lawyer". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "David Sive, 'father of environmental law' and Pace law professor, dead at 91". rockland.lohudblogs.com/. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "David Sive". Catskill Mountain News. Catskill Mountain News. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Home David Sive, 'father of environmental law' and Pace law professor, dead at 91". rockland.lohudblogs.com/. LoHud.com. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  10. Capasso, Sam. "David Sive, Father of Environmental Law, Passes Away". nysbar.com/. Envirosphere. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  11. Hevesi, Dennis. "William Ginsberg, 75, Advocate for Preservation of Open Space, Dies". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  12. "Board of Advisors". New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute. New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  13. Reinhold, Robert. "The Law; Coming of Age of the Environmental Lawyer". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  14. Trump Courting Gray Power. New York Magazine. 11 January 1988. Retrieved 26 December 2014. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  15. "Life in a Small Town". observer.com. The Observer. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  16. Bartley, Tom. "Briarcliff Contamination Cleanup Scheme Ready for DEC". patch.com. Patch Media. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  17. "Graduation Awards" (PDF). New York University. New York University. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  18. "Columbia Law School Establishes David Sive Memorial Fund with Gift from Sive, Paget & Riesel". Columbia University. The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Retrieved 26 December 2014.

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