Head of Burns & Levinson’s Providence office, Sean Coffey is a senior environmental attorney and founding member of the firm’s Infrastructure & Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Group. For more than two decades, he led the development of P3s to assist state and local governments in building new and upgraded wastewater plants, specialized higher education facilities, public and charter schools, and transportation and energy facilities. He is a visionary attorney who has spent his entire career imagining how things should be done, and then has worked diligently to turn these forward-thinking ideas into reality in both the public and private arenas.

Sean works with private developers, financial institutions, municipal and state governments, and quasi-public agencies on projects including hydropower and offshore wind energy facilities, transportation and intermodal facilities, as well as major commercial, residential and mixed-use endeavors. These projects, which occur throughout the state of Rhode Island, often involve environmental, land use, and transactional representation for the remediation and adaptive reuse of brownfield sites.

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J.D., Boston University School of Law, 1976

B.S.F.S., International Relations, Georgetown University, 1972



Rhode Island

American Bar Association

Rhode Island Bar Association

U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island

U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

U.S. Supreme Court

honors & awards

Lawdragon Green 500: Leaders in Environmental Law (2023, 2024)

Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly Hall of Fame (2022)

National Law Journal – Energy & Environmental Trailblazer (2017)

The Best Lawyers in America© Best Lawyer, Environmental Law and Environmental Litigation (1993-2024)

Rhode Island Super Lawyers (2007-2011, 2013-2014)

Providence Preservation Society – 50 Most Influential People (2006)

United Way of Southeastern New England – Community Volunteer of the Year (1995)

ACLU of Rhode Island – Civil Libertarian of the Year (1995)

Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission – Outstanding Leadership Award (1988)

Providence Preservation Society – Citation for Achievement (1988)

community involvement

Providence Preservation Society

  • Past President

Save the Bay

  • Past Board Member

United Way of Southeastern New England

  • Past Chair

National Trust for Historic Preservation

  • Rhode Island Advisor


  • Represented State of Rhode Island and higher education authority in negotiation of a long term development lease to transform former power generating facility into high-tech advanced nursing education center.
  • Represented major equipment manufacturer and financial investor in development of off-shore wind energy and gas-fired energy production facilities.
  • Represented municipalities in negotiations with major international companies to design, build and operate new drinking water treatment and upgraded waste water treatment facilities.
  • Represented national Brownfield’s re-developer in remediation and adaptive-reuse of former historic industrial buildings.
  • Represented national investors and developers in environmental remediation, coastal permitting and adaptive reuse of former fuel storage facilities for residential and mixed use development.
  • Represented national hotel developer in obtaining municipal tax stabilization agreement to support construction of a hotel.


American Bar Association

Rhode Island Bar Association

  • Past Chair of Committee on Environmental Law



“Remedial Studies,” Environmental Design and Construction, April 2012

“Alternative Procurement Approaches for Building Tomorrow’s Treatment Plants,” Water World, September 2010


“Nursing Education Center Wins Final State Approval,” Providence Journal, June 2014

“Attorney Sean Coffey Named Providence Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year,” Rhode Island Small Business Journal, August 2013


“Nursing education center wins final state approval,” Providence Journal, June 2014

“Attorney Sean Coffey Named Providence Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year,” Rhode Island Small Business Journal, August 2013.

“CRMC Rejects Town’s Erosion Plan,” South County Independent, April 2012

“5 Tips for Managing Mega-Projects,” Law360, February 2012

speaking engagements

“Individual Property Rights, State and Local Powers, and Strategies for Adapting,” Panelist, The Legal Implications of Climate Change for RI’s Coastal Communities Workshop, October 2012