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Fern A. Paterson

Charlotte | 704.335.9891
Fax | 704.335.4456

Fern Paterson focuses her practice on environmental, administrative, and regulatory law. Fern’s practice includes litigation, regulatory compliance matters, and business transactions for a wide variety of clients, including traditional energy, renewable energy (solar, wind, biogas, and biomass), chemical manufacturing, engineering, wood products, waste management, real estate development, and other commercial and manufacturing clients. Fern also assists in professional negligence and product liability litigation, including litigation alleging personal injury. She is licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Prior to joining Parker Poe, Fern was a private environmental consultant focusing on technical air issues and, later, a chemical engineer for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality – Division of Air Quality (DAQ). While at DAQ, Fern drafted and negotiated permits for manufacturers and provided litigation support to the North Carolina Department of Justice. She also coordinated with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the regulated industrial community, environmental groups, and individuals affected by various legal and technical issues. Fern is a licensed professional engineer (P.E.) in North Carolina.

Fern was appointed by the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to serve on the Air Quality Commission (AQC) and has served as a commissioner since 2013. The AQC provides stakeholder input to the BOCC, local municipalities, and Mecklenburg County Air Quality staff through the review and recommendations of air pollution management policies and long-range plans and operations.

Fern regularly speaks on environmental topics such as emerging issues in environmental law, air quality compliance, environmental audits, and endangered species consultations. She also maintains an active pro bono practice, helping indigent clients expunge criminal records and representing abused and neglected children through North Carolina’s Guardian ad Litem program.

While at North Carolina Central University, Fern was a senior editor of the North Carolina Central Law Review.

Representative Experience

  • Advised clients on federal, state, and local environmental permitting requirements, including New Source Review construction permits, Title V operating permits, wetlands permits, solid waste permits, and stormwater and industrial wastewater permits.
  • Represented engineering and manufacturing clients in product liability and professional negligence litigation, including litigation alleging personal injury.
  • Counseled clients on environmental and regulatory issues in business transactions, including due diligence and environmental site assessments for commercial and industrial developments.
  • Supported renewable energy clients in permitting, due diligence, and compliance matters, including support for solar farms, wind farms, and biogas and biomass facilities.
  • Conducted multimedia environmental audits of manufacturing operations.
  • Represented a solid waste services client in several odor and nuisance compliance lawsuits concerning a municipal solid waste landfill.
  • Advised developers and municipalities through the process of obtaining Brownfields agreements for redevelopment of contaminated properties.
  • Represented condemning parties in eminent domain and condemnation actions.
  • Defended third-party challenges to agency actions, including permitting decisions and interbasin transfers.
  • Advised industrial and manufacturing clients on third-party CERCLA (Superfund) contribution and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) cost recovery claims.
  • Counseled banking, industrial, and commercial clients on Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act and State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) consultations related to greenfield developments.
  • Advised manufacturing clients on Toxic Substances Control Act matters.
  • Prepared and submitted self-disclosures under EPA and state policies and procedures.

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Honors & Awards

  • Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers in Environmental Law, 2021
  • North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society, 2019
  • North Carolina State University Caldwell Scholarship
  • North Carolina State University Fellows Program