Robert Howard retired from the partnership in December 2023 and is currently of counsel. Mr. Howard represents clients in the oil and gas, power, aerospace, defense, chemical, and cleantech industries.

Mr. Howard has tried high-profile criminal and civil cases in federal and state courts. He handles governmental civil and criminal enforcement actions, clean water matters, toxic tort and product liability cases, public nuisance, asbestos matters, ocean sediment contamination, natural resources damages, federal facility divestitures, brownfield redevelopment, renewable energy projects, government contractor disputes, environmental litigation, and permitting cases.

Mr. Howard formerly chaired the San Diego office’s Environment, Land & Resources Department.

Mr. Howard has published articles on criminal environmental enforcement, evidentiary issues, CERCLA cost recovery, and military base and federal war plant closures. His articles have been cited by the Supreme Courts of Michigan, Florida, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. Mr. Howard also speaks regularly on environmental and litigation topics at law schools and industry groups.

Mr. Howard has been nationally recognized in The Legal 500 US (2007–2012, 2018, 2020) and Chambers USA (2006–2023) where sources describe him as “extremely hard-working and a first-class strategist” and “an excellent trial lawyer who gets fantastic results.” Law360 named him a 2016 MVP for notable legal work in the Environmental category. Mr. Howard has been recognized in the areas of environmental law and litigation by Super Lawyers San Diego (2007–2023).

Prior to joining Latham & Watkins, Mr. Howard served as a judicial clerk for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He graduated from Duke Law School with honors and served as a notes editor on the Duke Law Journal. Mr. Howard is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

Selected Articles

  • “Victory Through Production: Are Legacy Costs of War Scuttling the ‘GOCO Model’?” 64 Public Contract Law Journal 259 (2017)
  • “Goodbye Fourth of July: Are Fireworks Displays Now Subject to CWA Regulation?,” 43 Environmental Law Reporter 10537 (July 2013)
  • “Test Methods Matter: Representative Sampling and Clean Air Act Test Methods Can Survive EPA’s Credible Evidence Rule,” 25 (University of Oregon’s) Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 37 (2010)
  • “Two Different Methods, Three Different Variations, Four Different Sources: What Bulk Asbestos PLM Method Is Your Laboratory Using?” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 7:D53-D56, D65-D68 (2010)
  • “The EPA’s Prosecution of Clean Air Act Asbestos NESHAP Cases Based Upon Nonbinding Bulk Material Test Methods,” 44 San Diego Law Review 173 (2007)
  • “Applicable Polarized Light Microscopy Method for Asbestos NESHAP Compliance Testing,” 55 Microscope 75 (2007)
  • “Redeveloping the Department of Defense’s Inventory of Contaminated ‘Government-Owned Contractor-Operated’ Facilities,” 12 Fordham Environmental Law Journal 1 (2000)
  • “Demilitarized Zones,” Real Estate Law (1997)
  • “Government Cost Recovery after the Cleanup: Do the Superfund Amendments Give the EPA a License to Squander?” 42 Baylor Law Review 53 (1990)
  • “The Negligent Commercial Transaction Tort: Imposing Common Law Liability on Merchants for Sales and Leases to ‘Defective Customers,” Duke Law Journal 755 (1988)

 Mr. Howard's experience includes:

  • West coast public nuisance, product liability, and natural resource damages cases brought by municipalities against a former chemical manufacturer.
  • Toxic tort and product liability cases, including Newman v. Stringfellow, relating to Stringfellow disposal facility claims of 4,000 plaintiffs in Riverside, California; Alderman v. Cadillac Fairview/California and related litigation in Torrance, California; Acevedo v. Union Pacific Railroad, relating to claims of 1,900 plaintiffs in Mission, Texas.
  • Defense of federal and state civil and criminal environmental enforcement actions. Represented San Diego Gas & Electric in the federal criminal Clean Air Act asbestos NESHAP trial, United States v. San Diego Gas & Electric (SD Cal. 2006 – 2009), and Sempra Energy in the civil case, County of San Diego v. Sempra Energy (2006).
  • San Diego Bay contaminated sediment and cost recovery cases in America’s Cup Harbor, Campbell Shipyard, NASSCO Shipyard. Represented Campbell Industries and Marine Construction and Design Co. in the complex multi-party federal court litigation.
  • Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation v. City of San Diego, La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation. Defense of nationally publicized lawsuits to cancel the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Independence Day fireworks displays under CEQA and state environmental laws.
  • Solar, wind, geothermal renewable energy, and water infrastructure development projects and related lawsuits in Western United States.
  • Redevelopment, cleanup, and cost recovery at federal and government contractor facilities: Naval Ordnance Station, Louisville, Kentucky; Naval Air Warfare Center, Indianapolis, Indiana; Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant, Pomona, California; and Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plants in Dallas, Texas; Bethpage, New York; Bedford, Massachusetts; Bristol, Tennessee; Norton Air Force Base; Naval Fuel Depot, Richmond, California; Indiana Ammunition Plant, Charlestown, Indiana; Elk Hills Naval Petroleum Reserve, Kern County, California; Air Force Plant 44, Tucson, Arizona; Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California; and Defense Nuclear Agency test facility, San Diego, California.

Bar Qualification

  • California
  • District of Columbia
  • Texas


  • JD, Duke University School of Law, 1989
  • MBA, Duke University, 1989
  • BS in Applied Physics, Tufts University, 1982
  • BSME in Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University, 1982
General Recognition Thumbnail
December 13, 2016 Recognition

Environmental MVP: Latham & Watkins' Robert Howard

Partner Robert Howard, chair of the San Diego office's Environment, Land & Resources Department, is recognized as an Environmental MVP for his work as lead national counsel for Monsanto Co.