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Robert E. McDonnell


As of November 24, 2014 practicing with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Bob McDonnell has been with the firm since 1983. Bob concentrates his practice on environmental, land use and real estate matters. He counsels clients on compliance and permitting, defends them in enforcement cases, and represents them in trials in the state and federal courts and in hearings before administrative agencies and boards.

Bob represents a number of Fortune 500 companies, but also devotes a significant amount of his time to privately held companies and family-owned businesses. He has represented fiduciaries in various matters, and represents clients in commercial disputes and maritime cases. Bob joined Bingham’s Boston office in 1983 after spending his first two years in practice with McCutchen Black Verleger and Shea in Los Angeles, Calif.

Bob is also a co-chairman of the firm’s national pro bono practice committee. He works with partners and associates across the country to help manage Bingham’s pro bono efforts. He has personally participated in child welfare appeals, Adoption of James, 63 Mass.App.Ct. 1106, 823 N.E.2d 823 (2005); defense of bar disciplinary matters; insurance coverage disputes, Todino v. Arbella Mut. Ins. Co., 415 Mass. 298 (1993); and representation of minority organizations in voting rights cases, Black Political Task Force v. Connolly, 679 F.Supp. 109 (D. Mass. 1988)(three-judge panel) and 1992 WL 605665 (D. Mass. 1992)(three-judge panel).


  • In response to a lawsuit brought by a competing real estate developer, obtained the dismissal of a case challenging the adequacy of the client’s environmental impact reports under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act. Combined Properties v. Pritchard, 21 Mass.L.Rptr. 644 (2006). The court dismissed a similar challenge by another party in 2003.
  • Won a seven-figure judgment in arbitration for a solid waste management and recycling firm. The claims involved environmental and commercial issues and arose under the provisions of a long-term contract with a public entity.
  • Won dismissal of a penalty assessment against the operators of a marine terminal and road salt distribution company. In the Matter of Eastern Minerals, Inc., 13 DEP Rptr. 219 (Aug. 8, 2006). Bob has also negotiated state and federal consent orders for many clients involving alleged noise complaints, fugitive emission of VOCs, ozone layer emissions, pesticide labeling, hazardous waste recordkeeping and disposal, wetlands violations, and other alleged offenses.
Land Use
  • In response to zoning board orders restricting the client’s ready-mix manufacturing operation, obtained a preliminary injunction from the Massachusetts Land Court restraining enforcement. After trial, the court ruled that the client’s hours of operation and volume of production were grandfathered. MS&G Lakeville Corp. v. Town of Lakeville, 15 LCR 259 (June 1, 2007).
  • Worked with local counsel to appeal successfully the denial of a special permit for the expansion of a family-owned beer distribution business. When the board imposed unreasonable traffic limitations on remand, a second appeal to the Superior Court resulted in a summary judgment striking the unreasonable restrictions.
  • Took over a zoning case on appeal and persuaded the court to reverse the bad faith ruling made at trial. Sheehan v. Zoning Board of Plymouth, 65 Mass.App.Ct. 52 (2005). When the opponent brought an action alleging abuse of process and other torts against the family-owned company and its principals, filed an anti-SLAPP motion resulting in dismissal of the second action and an award of attorneys’ fees.
Counseling and Permitting
  • In 2008, worked closely with a family-owned business and a team of experts to secure a special permit for a waterfront location in Boston Harbor combining marine industrial uses with innovative public access and recreational features. The permitting effort involved neighborhood meetings, negotiations with numerous stakeholders and regulators, and a series of public hearings before the permitting boards.
  • Assisted a New England textile manufacturer in demonstrating to one of its major retail customers that the client’s product consisted wholly of recycled materials that met the standards of both the customer and the Federal Trade Commission
  • Advised a developer about federal and state wetlands issues on its proposed site. He also advised an industrial client about requirements for a storm water pollution prevention plan under a general permit.
  • In 2008, performed the due diligence and crafted the environmental opinion in connection with a construction loan for an office park in the Boston suburbs


  • MEPA Litigation segment of Lorman Education Series seminar on the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, West Springfield, Mass. (Nov. 13, 2008) and Dedham, Mass. (May 28, 2008).
  • Panelist, When Joint Ownership Goes Sour, Real Estate Bar Association Spring Conference, Worcester, Mass. (May 5, 2008)


  • American Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Boston Bar Association
  • Real Estate Bar Association
  • Maritime Law Association
  • Two-term chairman, Town of Wellesley Wetland Protection Committee (1995–2007).
  • Board of Trustees, The Boston Harbor Association (2006–2008). Currently provides pro bono legal counsel to this nonprofit NGO.

Awards & Honors

  • Super Lawyers, Massachusetts (2004, 2007–2012)

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