Burns & Levinson announced today that partner Sean Coffey, a seasoned environmental attorney, has been named to Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly’s “Hall of Fame” and will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award on June 7 to honor his long-time leadership in the profession and in public service.
Coffey has been in private practice for almost 40 years, including 20 years at Burns & Levinson, where he manages the firm’s Providence office and previously served for 14 years on the firm’s Executive Committee. He is well-known for his creative work bringing innovative environmental infrastructure projects and public/private partnerships (P3) to fruition throughout Rhode Island and across the country, including new and upgraded drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities and a state-of-the-art nursing education center. His clients include municipalities, state agencies, developers, and institutional investors in major energy projects, including hydro-power and off-shore wind energy facilities, transportation and intermodal facilities, as well as major commercial, residential and mixed-use projects, involving environmental, land use, and transactional representation for the remediation and adaptive reuse of brownfield sites throughout Rhode Island.
Coffey began his legal career in public service as staff counsel to the Rhode Island Department of Natural Resources, where he helped develop the legislation that created the Department of Environmental Management. He spent six years as legal counsel and chief legal counsel for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and is widely credited with working to develop environmental programs and for drafting many of the existing environmental laws in Rhode Island, including statutes dealing with hazardous waste management, solid waste disposal, wetlands protection, air pollution control, water pollution control, and groundwater protection.
Soon after entering private practice in 1983, Coffey formed the Providence Mayor’s Management Task Force to guide city government, following the resignation of the prior Mayor until a special election could be held. He later served in the Rhode Island Senate from 1985-1991, focusing on environmental and historic preservation issues and civil rights.
Coffey most recently served as chairman of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Special Legislative P3 Commission, which was charged with studying and providing recommendations to promote the upgrade of facilities used for public purposes by encouraging private investment in qualifying projects. He also previously served as President of the Providence Preservation Society, on the Board of Advisors to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as Board Chairman of the United Way of Rhode Island, and as a Board member of Save the Bay among many other activities.
He has received numerous awards, including from Common Cause, the ACLU of Rhode Island, United Way, the Providence Preservation Society, and the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission for his many contributions to the state. He received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law and his B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.