Ian L. Sandison - Carlsmith Ball LLP

Ian L. Sandison

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2005
Phone: 808-523-2526

Ian L. Sandison is a partner in the firm's Honolulu office, concentrating his practice in the areas of environmental law, administrative law, and land use.  He routinely represents businesses, landowners and government agencies in complex development projects, administrative hearings, enforcement actions, permitting, compliance, and transactional matters. 

Ian's work on behalf of clients is distinguished by the orchestrated, strategic, and nuanced approach he brings to bear on large complex projects.  When appropriate, he assembles a team of skilled legal professionals from Carlsmith Ball and professionals from other disciplines, to work with the client to put together a plan that will achieve the client's goals and is likely to survive future court challenges.  Past interdisciplinary teams have included planners, archeologists, architects, other engineers (Ian himself is a licensed professional engineer), public relations practitioners, and lenders.  This holistic approach frequently returns greater benefits than a more piecemeal one.  When litigation is the only alternative, however, Ian is a staunch champion of his clients' rights, working in concert with Carlsmith Ball litigators.

Ian is listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2016 for Real Estate (Environmental)—(Band 1).  He was named Lawyer of the Year—Environmental Law—Honolulu by The Best Lawyers in America 2015.  He has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2005.  He was also selected by attorney peers for inclusion in Super Lawyers 2013 for Environmental Law.

Representative Environmental Matters

  • Water: Defended clients in federal, state, and citizen enforcement actions involving NPDES, storm water, safe drinking water, and large capacity cesspool issues. Defended natural resource damages claims brought under the Oil Pollution Act and state law. Counseled clients regarding complex water pollution permitting issues.
  • Air: Defended and resolved significant federal and state enforcement actions brought under the Clean Air Act. Assisted clients in obtaining non-covered source, covered source, and PSD permits. Counseled and defended clients with asbestos laws and regulations.
  • CERCLA: Represented industry group in drafting and successfully creating the State of Hawai`i's Voluntary Response Program. Pursued and defended cost recovery actions under CERCLA and the Hawai`iEnvironmental Response Law. Supervised remediation and redevelopment of numerous contaminated (Brownfield) properties through closure with the EPA and Hawai`i Department of Health. Advised clients in all aspects of due diligence, risk allocation, insurance, and compliance related to transactions involving contaminated property.
  • Underground Storage Tanks: Defended administrative enforcement actions regarding alleged noncompliance with underground storage tank regulations. Evaluated and counseled clients with underground storage tank compliance programs involving substantial retail gasoline operations on all the major Hawaiian islands.
  • Wastes: Represented large and small quantity generators of hazardous waste in enforcement, compliance, and remedial actions. Assisted clients regarding federal and state solid waste management issues including permitting, enforcement actions, and contested cases.
  • Pesticides: Represented clients in criminal and civil enforcement of federal and state pesticide regulations. Counseled clients regarding pesticide compliance and redevelopment of pesticide contaminated property.
  • Toxic Substances and EPCRA: Defended federal enforcement actions concerning alleged PCB and EPCRA violations.
  • Environmental Impact Statements: Assisted clients in the preparation and defense of environmental impact statements and environmental assessments.
  • Endangered Species Act: Drafted and negotiated Hawai`i's first safe harbor agreement under the Endangered Species Act.

Representative Administrative and Land Use Matters

  • Board of Land and Natural Resources: Represented clients regarding preparation of management plans, conservation district use applications, environmental assessment and environmental impact statements and contested cases before the Board of Land and Natural Resources. Coordinated preparation of archeological inventory surveys, burial treatment plans, and mitigation/monitoring plans submitted to SHPD and the Oahu Island Burial Council.
  • Honolulu and Maui Planning Commissions: Represented clients in connection with zoning changes, special use permit applications, community plan amendments, and contested cases before the County Planning Commissions.
  • Hawai`i Land Use Commission: Represented clients in district boundary amendments, special use permits, and contested cases before the Land Use Commission.
  • Honolulu City Council and Hawai`i State Legislature: Represented clients as a registered lobbyist and counseled clients in connection with legal requirements concerning government affairs.

Prior Employment

  • Dillingham Construction Pacific, Project Engineer, 1982-1989  


  • Listed in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2016 for Real Estate for Real Estate:  Zoning/Land Use
  • Named Honolulu Lawyer of the Year 2015—Environmental Law by The Best Lawyers in America; listed in the publication since 2005
  • Selected by attorney peers for inclusion in Super Lawyers 2013 for Environmental
  • University of Hawai`i School of Law, Adjunct Faculty in Environmental Law


  • Hawai`i Chamber of Commerce; Chair, Environmental Affairs Committee
  • Hawai`i State Bar Association
  • American Bar Association
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Founding member of the Hawai`i Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Sustainability Committee

University of Hawaii at ManoaWilliam S. Riohardson School of Law, U. of Hawai'i ManoaJ.D.

Office Location

1001 Bishop Street, Suite 2100
Honolulu, HI 96813
United States

Lawyer of the Year Awards

2015 Lawyer of the Year in Environmental Law of the Honolulu Metro Area
Ian L. Sandison has earned a Lawyer of the Year award for 2015!

Practice Areas

Environmental Law (Administrative/Regulatory, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Counseling, Enforcement Defense, Environmental Cleanup, Environmental Permitting, Government Relations, RCRA/Hazardous Waste, Solid Waste, Superfunds/Environmental Remediation)