Nicki Carlsen

Nicki Carlsen

Alston & Bird LLP

Recognized since 2017

Los Angeles, California

Practice Areas

Land Use and Zoning Law

Litigation - Environmental

Litigation - Land Use and Zoning

Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2018 - Litigation - Land Use and Zoning
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Nicki Carlsen is the co-leader of the firm’s Environment, Land Use & Natural Resources Group. Her practice focuses on land use, environmental compliance and litigation. She has over 25 years of experience with the federal, state and local regulations affecting development projects, including land use planning and subdivision laws, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), California Coastal Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, endangered species acts and cultural resources requirements.

Through her representation of industrial, residential and commercial property owners, Nicki can navigate a course of action from project inception to completion. Her land use experience extends to all project entitlements, including general plan amendments, specific plans, development agreements, zone changes, subdivisions, conditional use permits, variances and grading, building and encroachment permits, as well as specialized environmental permits such as coastal development permits, Section 404 permits and “take” permits. She also advises clients regarding proposed regulations at the local, state and federal levels.

Nicki advises clients on how to comply with CEQA and NEPA statutes and oversees the adequacy of CEQA and NEPA documents. She has successfully defended project approvals in the trial and appellate courts and has also successfully prosecuted actions on behalf of property owners to obtain land use entitlements.

Nicki has also been listed in the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Litigation – Land Use and Zoning.


  • 333 South Hope Street, 16th Floor
    Los Angeles, CA 90071-3004


  • University of Southern California , J.D., graduated 1990

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1990


  • Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Council of Legal Advisors (2013-2016): Administrative Law and Land Use Law - Instructor
  • California Building Industry Association (CBIA) - Board of Directors, Government Affairs Committee, Legal Action Committee
  • California Independent Petroleum Association - Member
  • Law360's Environmental 2013 Editorial Advisory Board - Board Member
  • Urban Land Institute (ULI) - Member
  • West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce - Member
  • Western States Petroleum Association - Member
  • Westside Neighborhood School, Los Angeles, California - Board of Trustees

Alston & Bird LLP
Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia

204 The Best Lawyers in America® awards

72 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America awards

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Lawyer of the Year Badge - 2018 - Litigation - Land Use and Zoning

Named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers® for:

  • Litigation - Land Use and Zoning, Los Angeles (2018)

Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2022 for work in:

  • Litigation - Environmental
  • Land Use and Zoning Law
  • Litigation - Land Use and Zoning

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