FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Carol E. Dinkins

Carol E. Dinkins

Vinson & Elkins LLP

Houston, TX, USA


Carol E. Dinkins is a partner with Vinson & Elkins, where she chairs the environmental practice and is a former member of the Firm’s Management Committee (1990-96). She received her baccalaureate degree in 1968 from The University of Texas at Austin, and her law degree in 1971 from the University of Houston Law Center. Ms. Dinkins joined Vinson & Elkins in 1973 and was admitted to the partnership in 1980. In 1981 she was appointed Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. While Assistant Attorney General, Ms. Dinkins supervised the government’s litigation in federal environmental, natural resources, and public lands matters. During her tenure, the Division implemented the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as Superfund) and created the Environmental Crimes Section. In 1984 she was appointed Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the second-ranking official in the Department of Justice, responsible for the day-to-day management of its 60,000+ employees. At various times during her tenure as Deputy Attorney General, she served as Acting Attorney General of the United States, participating in Cabinet and other meetings with the President. She rejoined the Firm in April 1985. From 2006 – 2008, Ms. Dinkins chaired, by appointment of President Bush with Senate confirmation, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by the Intelligence Reform Act amendments of 2004, and which resided in the White House Executive Office of the President. She has served in three other positions of Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation and has chaired one Presidential and three Gubernatorial task forces.

Ms. Dinkins served as an officer of and briefly chaired the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy, a leading international conservation organization. Previously, she chaired the Texas Chapter Board for three years. In 1997, Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, of which she served as Vice Chair, and in 2000 as Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation. She served on the Executive Committee of the ABA Board of Governors and is past Chair of the ABA Sections on Environment, Energy and Resources Law and State and Local Government Law. She served 14 years in the ABA House of Delegates and chaired the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal and the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which rates all nominees for Article III courts. She is past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

In her practice, Ms. Dinkins represents clients in administrative proceedings before various federal agencies and in state and federal litigation. She has obtained requisite governmental approvals of major new facilities as well as defended challenges under NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act to construction of such projects for clients including industries, developers, and governmental entities. She has negotiated consent decrees and administrative consent orders under CERCLA, RCRA, TSCA, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act, conducted internal inquiries and represented clients in criminal investigations, pleas, sentencing, probation and debarment matters. She advises clients on corporate environmental policy and compliance.

In 1982, Ms. Dinkins was a delegate to the Japanese-American Environmental Conference in Osaka, Japan. In 1985, she participated in the first Anglo-American Successor Generation Program at Oxford, England, organized by Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In 1986 she was the Distinguished Environmental Visiting Lecturer at the University of Colorado College of Law. From 1993 to 1995 Ms. Dinkins chaired the committee that selects Rhodes Scholars to represent the Southeastern United States. She has chaired the planning committees of and moderated various programs and serves on the faculty of the ALI/ABA Annual Course of Study on Environmental Litigation. She is a frequent lecturer on environmental law, co-author of a book on environmental crimes, and has published numerous articles.

In 1999, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession presented Ms. Dinkins the Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement. Earlier that year, the National Law Journal recognized her as one of the nation’s fifty most influential women lawyers. The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers (2005 Edition) dentifies her among the top 18 environmental lawyers worldwide. Ms. Dinkins was named YWCA Outstanding Houston Woman of the Year for Business in 1989, and in 1984 outstanding alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center. The National Law Journal in 1990 recognized her as one of the nation’s leading practitioners of environmental law and in 1982 The American Lawyer named her the best Justice Department litigating division chief to serve under U.S. Attorney General William French Smith. The Houston City Magazine in 1982 named her one of Houston’s 20 most powerful women. She was featured in the June 1994 issue of International Corporate Law. In May of 2000, because of her volunteer activities on behalf of conservation, Ms. Dinkins was recognized during the nationally-televised Wonders of Wildlife: A Concert for Conservation, with Kenny Rogers presenting her the award for Outstanding Outdoors Woman of 2000, the first time presented. That October, Ms. Dinkins was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame for her government service and conservation work.
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