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Matthew Pawa

Seeger Weiss, LLP - Newton
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Matthew Pawa
Seeger Weiss, LLP - Newton

A pioneer of environmental litigation, Matt has been involved in many of the nation’s most important environmental cases for over 25 years. His 13-year lawsuit against more than a dozen oil companies for polluting New Hampshire groundwater resulted in over $100 million in pre-trial settlements and a $236 million verdict against Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest verdict in state history. Matt was recognized in 2013 as a Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year for his work on the case. His groundbreaking work with a group of eight state attorneys general and the City of New York in taking on the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities launched the first climate change tort case in 2004.

Matt represents Vermont in litigation against 3M and Du Pont for pollution of the state’s land and waters with the PFAS “forever chemicals.” He recently represented New Hampshire in litigation against Monsanto for pollution of state waters with PCBs, which resulted in a $25 million settlement in 2022; he continues to be active in PCBs litigation on behalf of the City of Los Angeles and other municipal clients across the country. Matt has also represented the State of New Jersey in litigation against Sherwin Williams for leaving a toxic legacy behind when it closed shop on the largest paint manufacturing facility in the world.

Over the years Matt has defended environmental groups and climate protestors in cases brought by fossil fuel companies and prosecutors. In 2015 he defended Greenpeace U.S.A.’s right to protest Shell’s Arctic drilling; the issue became an international embarrassment for Shell, which dropped its plan to drill and lost its lawsuit against Greenpeace. Matt also obtained a dismissal of all criminal charges against climate protesters Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara in the Lobster Boat Blockade case in 2014; the district attorney issued a dramatic statement on the courthouse steps announcing he was dropping the charges and would join an upcoming climate march. And he represented the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund in cases filed by the automobile industry that rejected the industry’s challenges to state greenhouse gas laws in California, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

Prior to entering private practice, Matt served as an assistant county prosecutor in Burlington, Vermont where he prosecuted the Valentine’s Day rapist. He is the recipient of the national Scribes Award for excellence in legal writing and the Fred G. Leebron Prize for constitutional writing. Matt is a frequent speaker at law schools and bar association events and regularly appears in national news stories. Before attending law school, Matt worked as a river guide on raft trips in the western U.S. and studied environmental science at Cornell University’s SUNY College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is the host of the Mother Earth Podcast.


1993, Juris Doctorate, cum laude

University of Pennsylvania

1987, Bachelor of Science, with distinction

Cornell University


Environmental Litigation






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