Frances helps clients navigate complex issues involving a variety of environmental and energy laws, including representation in all phases of government investigations and administrative and civil litigation, as well as conducting internal investigations and audits.  Frances also assists clients in assessing and managing transactional risks by conducting due diligence, identifying potential environmental and related liabilities, and developing solutions for mitigating or shifting risk.

Most recently, Frances has represented clients developing pipeline infrastructure in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)’s certification process for interstate natural gas pipelines under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), and on review before federal courts of appeal.  Frances’s representation includes all aspects of the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and with respect to applicable environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act. 

In addition, Frances has assisted clients with conducting internal investigations to identify compliance risks under the Clean Air Act, as well as advising clients on business risks associated with climate change initiatives and regulations.  Frances also has assisted Native American tribal and non-tribal businesses with regulatory issues, disputes, and transactions relating to project development on tribal and federal lands; issues of federal, state, and tribal regulations; as well as commercial and lending transactions involving tribes.

Before joining Van Ness Feldman, Frances practiced commercial litigation as an associate with Venable LLP, where she represented clients in a variety of business disputes before state and federal courts and arbitral tribunals.  During law school, Frances served as a law clerk for the Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section, and interned in a European office of an international law firm specializing in energy law. 

In her spare time, Frances enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband, two daughters, and yellow lab.  She also volunteers as a foster home for rescued labs with Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac.

  • Experience
    • Defending FERC pipeline certificates against environmental challenges before federal courts of appeal.
    • Drafting amicus briefs on behalf of Native American trade association advocating for tribal economic development before federal courts of appeal.
    • Assisting in the defense of a civil enforcement action brought by a state attorney general.
    • Monitoring and analyzing trends in the developing area of climate change litigation for major international auto manufacturer.
    • Assisting with complex, multi-national internal investigation into potential violations of U.S. environmental laws and potential false statements to regulators.
    • Providing strategic advice and assistance to FERC-regulated facility in multidistrict federal litigation resulting from flooding incident.
    • Assisting in counseling client in responding to an Environmental Protection Agency enforcement action under the Renewable Fuels Standard program, in which the government declined to pursue the action.
    • Preparing client witnesses for depositions and managing discovery, including streamlining document review using predictive coding.
    • Representing companies in prosecuting applications before FERC for authorization to construct, expand, and operate interstate natural gas pipelines, including the development of environmental resource reports, responding to interventions and comments of landowners, environmental groups, and other stakeholders, and defending certificates on rehearing and against motions to stay.
    • Drafting responses to protests filed in natural gas pipeline certificate application proceedings.
    • Conducting regulatory due diligence for client seeking to purchase a natural gas storage facility.
    • Counseling clients in the Native American and Tribal Business practice group on regulatory compliance obligations under federal and state consumer financial protection laws, including the Truth-in-Lending Act and Regulation Z; Electronic Funds Transfer Act and Regulation E; Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; Military Lending Act; Telephone Consumer Protection Act; Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B; Fair Credit Reporting Act and Regulation V; and “UDAAP” provisions.
    • Advising non-tribal financial technology company on commercial lending transaction involving a Native American tribe.
    • Assisting Federal Public Defender in representation of client pursuing compassionate release before the Eastern District of Virginia.
    • Successfully representing District of Columbia clients on pro bono basis through Washington Lawyers’ Committee’s D.C. Prisoners’ Project at parole hearings before United States Parole Commission.
    • Drafting memorandum for American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on pro bono basis addressing Department of Housing and Urban Development’s authority to waive Housing Act provisions that provide public housing tenants the right to own pets.

  • Professional Affiliations
  • Awards & Honors
  • Bar & Court Admissions
    District of Columbia Bar
    Virginia State Bar
    U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
    U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • Government Service

    U.S. Department of Justice

    Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Enforcement Section, 2012

  • News & Presentations
  • Thought Leadership

Education

The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law J.D., magna cum laude, 2013; Served as Note and Comment Editor to the Catholic University Law Review, and Captain of the International Arbitration Moot Court team.

James Madison University B.A., 2008