Our Team

Susan L. Stephens

Susan has extensive experience that includes helping clients decide on property investments and the best utilization of that property and navigating the complex universe of local, state and federal environmental regulations to achieve the clients' development goals.
This includes working with agencies to develop workable rules, challenging rules that put an unfair burden on business interests, negotiating with stakeholders, and obtaining environmental permits from local, state, and federal agencies. Her experience includes complex administrative hearings to defend permits against legal challenges that involved numerous expert witnesses. Balancing property and resource use with competing private, governmental, and citizen interests and demands can be challenging in a state like Florida, and it’s the focus of Susan’s practice.
  • Florida State University College of Law, J.D., with highest honors (Order of the Coif; Law Review, Associate Editor; Writing and Research Editor)
  • Ohio Northern University, B.A. with high distinction (Major in English, Minor in German)
Bar & Court Admissions
  • Florida
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals (Eleventh Circuit)
  • U.S. District Court (Northern District of Florida, Middle District of Florida)
  • Board Certifications: Board Certified Specialist, State & Federal Government & Administrative Practice (Fla. Bar 2014)
Professional Affiliations
  • American Bar Association, Administrative and Regulatory Law, member, 1993-Present
  • American Bar Association, Environment, Energy and Resources(SEER), member
  • American Bar Association, SEER Endangered Species Committee, Chair, 2019-2020
  • American Bar Association, SEER Endangered Species Committee, Co-Chair, 2018-2019
  • American Bar Association, SEER Water Quality & Wetlands Committee, Vice-Chair, 2018-2019
  • Florida Bar, Environmental and Land Use Law Section (ELULS), member
  • Florida Bar, Administrative Law Section (ALS), member
  • Florida Bar, Continuing Legal Education Committee, member, 2005-2008
  • Florida Bar, Journal Editorial Board, member, 1998-2002
  • Florida Limerock & Aggregate Institute (FLAI), member
  • Florida Phosphate Political Committee, associate member
Community Involvement
  • Killearn United Methodist Church, Trustee, 2007-2010, re-appointed 2019-Present
  • Killearn United Methodist Church, Staff Parish Relations Committee, 2016-2018 (Chair, 2017-2018)
  • Killearn United Methodist Church, iServe volunteer, 2017-Present
  • Theatre Tallahassee Board, 2013-2017 (Vice-President 2014-2015; President 2015-2017)
  • Boy Scout Troop 16, Committee Member, 2010-Present (Secretary, 2012-2016);
  • Boy Scout Troop 16, Venture Crew Leader, 2017-Present
Awards & Recognition
  • Named in Florida Trend Magazine in 2012 as one of Florida’s “Legal Elite”
  • Recognized by Martindale-Hubbell as “BV-Distinguished”
Legal Experience
Represents clients before all levels of environmental agencies in connection with obtaining environmental permits related to resource extraction, wetlands and mitigation banks, wastewater, submerged lands, and state and federal listed wildlife, including NEPA compliance.
Assists in the development of policy and regulatory initiatives, which has included development of Florida’s Title V Air Operating Permit Program, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Wastewater Permitting Program, and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Wellfield Protection Rule, and Impaired Waters Rule Programs.
Advises and represents clients before state and federal agencies on interpretation, compliance and enforcement of environmental permits, dealing with issues such as unanticipated bypasses, "Act of God" emergency authorizations, spills, unpermitted wetland or species impacts, or similar compliance issues.
Assists clients in conducting environmental due diligence reviews for real estate transactions.
Represents commercial interests including phosphate, limerock, and sand mining operations, phosphoric acid, fertilizer and feed manufacturing operations, power generation and transmission operations, paper mill operations, glass manufacturing, chemical blending and manufacturing, and real estate developers.
Publications & Presentations
Presentation, Florida Chamber of Commerce Environmental Permitting Summer School, multiple years.
Presentation, Florida Mine Safety, Health & Environmental Conference, multiple years
Presenter, ABA CLE Webinar, Stormwater Permitting Basics (2019)
Presenter, ABA CLE Webinar, Endangered Species Act 101 (2019)
Organizer and Presenter, Florida Mining Summit, multiple years
Multiple articles, HGS Newsroom, www.hgslaw.com
Multiple articles, HGS SEER Connect
Co-Author, Proposed Changes to Interim Methodology for Endangered Species Risk Assessments for Pesticides,  ABA Administrative and Regulatory Law News Vol. 44 Issue 4, Summer 2019
Co-Author,  Forestry Best Management Practices for Water & Wildlife in Florida: What’s in It for Me? ABA SEER Natural Resources & Environment Magazine  Vol. 33, No. 3, Winter 2019
Presenter, ABA Non-CLE Webinar, EPA’s Draft Rule on Waters of the United States (WOTUS) (2013)
Co-Author, Numeric Nutrient Criteria, Coming to a Water Body Near You?ABA SEER Mining and Mineral Extraction Committee Newsletter (2013)
Co-Author, Effect of Third Party Participation on Phosphate Mine Permitting in Florida, ABA SEER Energy and Natural Resources Litigation Committee Newsletter (2013)
Author, Challenges to Phosphate Mine Permitting in Florida – ABA SEER Year in Review 2012, Mining Chapter
Co-Author, Feeling Our Way Through the Clean Water Act: Pre-Enforcement Judicial Review of the EPA Compliance Orders Under Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Florida Journal of Law and Public Policy – Volume 23 (2012)
Presentation, Florida Bar ELULS Annual Update Conference (2011)
Presentation, Florida Chamber of Commerce Growth Management Conference (2011)
Contributing co-author to regularly updated treatises: Florida Bar Association’s Administrative Law Treatise, Chapter 8, Environmental Agencies (2008-present)
Contributing co-author to regularly updated treatises: Florida Bar Association’s Environmental and Land Use Law Treatise, Chapter 9.4, Nationwide Permits (2008-2012)
Representative Published Decisions
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. United States Army Corps of Eng’rs, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205629, 85 ERC (BNA) 2385, 2017 WL 6387977 (M.D. Fla. 2017) (co-counsel)
FINR II, Inc. v. CF Industries and Dept. of Envt’l Prot., DOAH Case No. 11-6495 (DEP Final Order 2012), per curiam aff’d, 118 So.3d 809 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013), reh’d denied (2013), cert. denied, 571 U.S. 1175 (U.S. 2014)
Lee County & Sarasota County v. Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC and Dept. of Envt’l Prot., DOAH Case No. 08-3886 (DEP Final Order 2009), per curiam aff’d, 29 So.3d 301 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2010)
Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, et al. v. IMC Phosphates Company and Dep’t of Envt’l Prot., Case No. 03-0791 (DEP Final Order 2006), aff’d, 18 So.3d 1079 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2009), reh’g denied (2009)
Association of Florida Community Developers v. Dept. of Envt’l Prot., DOAH Case No. 04-000880RP (DOAH Final Order 2006), aff’d, 943 So.2d 989 (2006).
Harvey, et al. v. S.M.G., Inc. and Dep’t. of Envt’l Prot., DOAH Case No. 02-003835 (DEP Final Order 2005).
Medina, et al. v. City of Sunny Isles and Dept. of Comm’y Affairs, DOAH Case No. 04-00002GM (DOAH Final Order 2005), per curiam aff’d, 913 So. 2d 604 (Fla. 1st DCA 2005)
Manasota-88, Inc., et al. v. IMC Phosphates Co. and Dep’t of Envt’l Prot., DOAH Case No. 01-1080 (DEP Final Order 2002), aff’d, Charlotte County v. IMC-Phosphates, 824 So. 2d 298 (Fla. 1st DCA 2002)
Significant Transactions
Assisted property owner in obtaining local approval and state and federal environmental permits for a limerock mine in Levy County, Florida, inclusive of public hearings and administrative challenges
Assisted multiple property owners in obtaining environmental permits for limerock mines in Lee County, Florida, inclusive of public hearings and administrative challenges
Assisted property owner in obtaining local approvals and state environmental permits for limerock mine in Taylor County, Florida, inclusive of public hearings
Assisted major phosphate mining company in obtaining local, state, and federal environmental permits for multiple phosphate mine projects in central Florida,  inclusive of public hearings, administrative challenges, and appeals in state and federal court
Assisted real estate developers in obtaining federal environmental permits for mixed use developments in central Florida
Assisted real estate developer in obtaining water use permits for mixed use development in central Florida
Assisted paper mill in Georgia in obtaining and renewing wastewater discharge permits for discharge of mill effluent in Florida, inclusive of administrative challenge to initial permit
In the News
Jul 14, 2021
Environmental Permitting Summer School 2021
Susan Stephens mentioned
Apr 20, 2021
HGS a 50th Anniversary Legal Leader for American Bar Association Spring Environmental Law Conference
Susan Stephens mentioned
Mar 8, 2021
Susan Stephens authors ABA article on Section 404 Wetland Permitting
Susan Stephens mentioned
Sep 22, 2020
HGS Attorney Susan Stephens to Speak at American Bar Association Conference
Susan Stephens mentioned
Sep 22, 2020
HGS Attorney Susan Stephens Presented at NAEP 2020 Virtual Conference
Susan Stephens mentioned
Nov 12, 2019
HGS celebrates Mosaic’s win before 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Susan Stephens mentioned
Sep 30, 2019
Susan Stephens appointed Chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy & Resources (SEER) Endangered Species Committee 2019-2020
Susan Stephens mentioned
Sep 23, 2019
ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy & Resources “Best Committee” award for 2018-19
Susan Stephens mentioned
Jul 15, 2019
Twelve HGS Attorneys among Environmental Permitting Summer School Faculty
Susan Stephens mentioned
Contact Susan L. Stephens