Sara A. Clark

Sara Clark joined SMW in 2010 and is a partner at the firm. Ms. Clark’s practice focuses on representation of environmental groups, Indian tribes, and public agencies in CEQA and NEPA litigation, federal Indian and public land law, initiative and election law, and land conservation.

photo by Liza Heider

Ms. Clark represents clients in state and federal litigation and provides advice and counseling on non-litigation matters. She was part of the SMW litigation teams that successfully challenged the development of both a proposed new city and a massive new warehouse in rural Riverside County. She also has worked on a series of actions seeking to recover possession of tribal lands from non-tribal members who refuse to pay rent or vacate the properties. Ms. Clark also represented local environmental organizations in their successful challenge to an ill-sited housing development in the City of Brea.

In non-litigation matters, Ms. Clark counsels Indian tribes and Native American organizations on cultural resource protection and consultation issues, particularly on public lands sought for industrial development. In addition, she regularly advises land trusts on complex legal issues, including property acquisition, conservation easement drafting, and enforcement. In 2020, Ms. Clark was awarded a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (“CLAY”) award for her work to protect the Coyote Valley on behalf of the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

Ms. Clark graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where she earned a certificate in environmental law and was elected to the Order of the Coif. During law school, she served as Editor in Chief of the Ecology Law Quarterly and was a member of the Environmental Law Society’s Environmental Justice Symposium steering committee. She worked as a summer law clerk at SMW and spent a year as a legal intern at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Prior to attending law school, Ms. Clark worked in land conservation. She was part of the land acquisition team at the Peninsula Open Space Trust, a regional land trust that protects the San Francisco peninsula, and was part of the conservation research program at the Open Space Institute in New York City. Ms. Clark graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 with a degree in environmental science and public policy.

Ms. Clark is a member of the Bars of the State of California, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California, and the courts of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Ms. Clark serves on the Board of Directors for the Save the Redwoods League and is Chair of its Land Protection Committee. She also previously served as Chair of the Board of Bay Area Wilderness Training and on the Peninsula Open Space Trust NextGen Committee.