Meet Katie Ghilain, Who Was Recently Promoted From Associate to Principal at SPR


Katie has always had a passion for the environment. Throughout her studies at Vassar College and NYU Law, she focused on how her varied areas of interest — law, public policy, scientific inquiry and economics — all intersect in the search for creative solutions to environmental problems. The interests that Katie discovered and honed during college and law school serve her well in her practice at SPR.

Katie truly enjoys the variety of work and the challenges that she encounters every day. She has worked with a wide array of clients including the Hudson River Park Trust, the American Museum of Natural History, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”), and many private developers. Katie finds it fulfilling to be part of the process that culminates in seeing a project progress from concept to reality, whether it is analyzing the environmental impacts of the decommissioning of a former spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, permitting a complex waterfront development, or defending an important project in litigation. “Whenever we are brought in to assist with (and often defend) a project, we become part of a team that includes dedicated clients and top-notch developers, consultants, and engineers.  It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of that, and to contribute to a project’s success.”

There is always something new to be learned – new technologies, new business models, new ideas. Over the past few years Katie has focused on the development of offshore wind in the New York Bight (an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast).  She advised NYSERDA on New York State’s Offshore Wind Master Plan and its other offshore wind initiatives, and she is currently advising Atlantic Offshore Terminals on permitting the Arthur Kill Terminal project, which is poised to become New York State’s first pre-assembly port facility. “It is exciting to be at the forefront, advancing a new field in the U.S.”  Katie also enjoys helping clients think strategically about going beyond mere legal compliance to improve sustainability and contribute to the public good while protecting and promoting their own long-term interests.

Katie’s pro bono work is also rewarding. For several years she has worked with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF), creating workshops to educate judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement agents on how to better implement and enforce their wildlife trafficking and poaching laws. These workshops were held in three different regions in Africa. Katie’s pro bono work currently focuses on promoting biodiversity and resiliency a little closer to home; she is working with an established environmental organization that is engaged in ecosystem restoration in hopes of increasing biodiversity and providing protection to New York City from storm damage.

Within SPR, Katie has played an important role recruiting and mentoring the firm’s next generation of lawyers as the firm’s Co-director of Legal Recruitment. She enjoys being a resource for younger lawyers throughout the environmental community, as they establish themselves in their first jobs in the legal world or consider career moves.

There is one other short-term project on Katie’s docket, planning her wedding.  She is getting married this April.


SPR thanks guest author Linda Movish for her significant contributions to this piece.