Jonathan Brightbill

Jonathan Brightbill

Former Acting Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice; Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP

Jonathan “Jon” Brightbill is a trial and appellate lawyer in Winston’s Washington, D.C. office, and a partner in the firm’s Litigation and White Collar, Regulatory Defense, and Investigations Practices. He represents public and private companies, corporate officers, and other individuals across white collar, regulatory defense, and government and internal investigation matters and rulemaking challenges, as well as complex commercial disputes, citizen suits, and class actions. His commercial litigation experience encompasses business disputes, false advertising, consumer protection and fraud, FCA, and extensive class action defense work; antitrust and unfair competition matters; and intellectual property litigation, such as trademarks, patents, and trade secrets.

Jon served as the Nation’s lead environmental civil and criminal enforcement official and litigator, as Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment & Natural Resources Division (“ENRD”) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Jon led ENRD’s 425 lawyers, overseeing 6,500 active matters and managing an annual budget of more than $150 million. Jon brings highly experienced executive leadership from among the most senior level of DOJ on white collar and regulatory enforcement, as well as on federal policymaking and rulemaking development and challenges. He speaks with authority on government decision-making processes, and the arguments and perspectives that move regulators and enforcers, best advising and positioning clients to deal with challenges.

Jon argued many of the government’s most significant cases during his time with the DOJ. This included the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and Clean Water Rule Repeal (10th Cir., district courts), the Affordable Clean Energy Rule and Clean Power Plan Repeal (D.C. Cir), defense of EPA actions on pesticide tolerances under FIFRA and the FDCA (9th Cir. en banc), among numerous others. Jon represented the United States in trial courts in both enforcement and defensive cases, including federal enforcement action against Jeffrey Lowe and the Tiger King Park, of Netflix fame, securing a first-of-its-kind injunction for violations of the Endangered Species Act and Animal Welfare Act. Jon directed the litigation and briefing of scores of additional federal cases nationwide, covering all of the major environmental and natural resources statutes, such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, FIFRA (pesticides), FDCA (food safety), TSCA (toxics), CERCLA (land remediation), RCRA (waste), National Environmental Policy Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and numerous other land- and resource-management statutes.

Jon has unmatched experience litigating legal and technical issues relating to climate change. He argued in the courts of appeals, including the D.C. Circuit, regarding the most significant climate change regulations by EPA, as well as the preemptive scope of the Clean Air Act. Jon also litigated climate change-related credit and trading schemes and international agreements in district court. During Jon’s time in leadership at ENRD, it successfully defeated one of the most wide-ranging lawsuits regarding climate change to date—obtaining a stay pending interlocutory appeal and dismissal just weeks before a scheduled three-month trial on federal government liability for climate change.

An accomplished trial lawyer, prior to working at DOJ, Jon was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of another global law firm. He not only represents clients in court, but creatively counsels corporations on balancing business needs and realities with a broad range of litigation risks and compliance obligations. Jon is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He served on the American Bar Association’s E-Discovery Working Group for Bankruptcy Practice, and was a frequent lecturer for District of Columbia Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Programs.

Jon served as an appellate clerk for the Honorable D. Brooks Smith, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, after graduating magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. He worked in state government as an Executive Policy Specialist for air, waste, land remediation, and radiation matters at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.


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Deep Dive Episode 249 - Litigation Update: Ohio v. Environmental Protection Agency

Deep Dive Episode 249 - Litigation Update: Ohio v. Environmental Protection Agency

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