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Environment • Aboriginal • Energy

John Georgakopoulos

Partner
Certified Environmental Law Specialist

T: 416-862-4826  E: jgeorgakopoulos@willmsshier.com

Bio

John Georgakopoulos resolves complex environmental legal issues for clients, uniquely drawing on his technical knowledge as a former senior environmental scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. John is called to the bars of Ontario and Alberta.

Environmental Risk and Liability Protection

John advises corporations, directors and officers on environmental risks and liabilities regarding real estate and corporate/commercial transactions. He has particular expertise advising industrial manufacturers, property developers and REITs about brownfields and contaminated land. John’s strategic advice helps protect clients against corporate and personal environmental liabilities including civil claims, regulatory orders, prosecutions and fines.

Regulatory Approvals and Compliance

John guides clients through the complex regulatory environment, assisting with regulatory approvals for air, waste and water. He provides strategic advice to help clients maintain compliance with environmental laws. John negotiates with regulators on behalf of clients to avoid or minimize regulatory action, including prosecutions, orders, fines and penalties. He assists clients with regulatory inspections and investigations.

Environmental Litigation

  • Defence of environmental prosecutions
  • Administrative appeals and hearings
  • Environmental civil litigation

John represents clients in regulatory and civil proceedings about contaminated soil and groundwater, nuisance, air, noise, waste and odour issues. John appears before Ontario courts and tribunals. He is also retained by litigation counsel as an environmental expert.

Clean Tech, Climate Change, and Emissions Trading

John advises clients on importing and exporting of new products and substances, and on emissions trading and greenhouse gas reporting.

Prior Environmental Experience

Prior to becoming a lawyer, John was a senior environmental scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).

At the MOECC, John twice received the Ministry’s Emerald Award for superior quality service and environmental protection.

Clients

Industrial corporations, including waste management, food processing, petroleum processing, steel manufacturing, auto manufacturing and chemical manufacturing

  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs) & portfolio companies
  • Land developers, property owners, landlords, tenants
  • Directors and officers and other individuals
  • Corporate and commercial lawyers
  • Financial institutions and insurers
  • Estates and estate trustees
  • Transit authorities
  • Municipalities
  • Mining & exploration companies

Representative Work

Environmental Risk and Liability Protection

  • Environmental Due Diligence on Share Purchase—Provided strategic legal advice to a multinational industrial client on a $1.65 billion share purchase. Represented the client during negotiations concerning environmental risks and liabilities associated with complex industrial facilities impacting the transaction.
  • Strategic Environmental Law Advice for a REIT—Advising a real estate investment trust with a portfolio value of approximately $2 billion about environmental risks and liabilities associated with its portfolio. Created action plan for addressing and ranking environmental issues and setting priorities for action to deal with environmental risks and liabilities as part of the client’s environmental management program.
  • Procurement of Financing to Develop Contaminated Site—Assisted a developer client to obtain $10 million in construction financing for commercial development on contaminated land. Prepared submission to lender explaining potential exposure to environmental liability associated with the transaction.
  • Municipal Acquisition of Federal Harbour—Advised a municipality about potential environmental risks, obligations and liabilities  (civil and regulatory) associated with the client’s acquisition of a federal harbour with contamination issues. Advised on environmental terms to be negotiated in the divestiture agreement to address environmental liability.
  • Environmental Law Advice to Estate and Estate Trustees—Provided environmental legal advice to estates and estate trustees to minimize and manage environmental liabilities associated with contaminated property held by the estate.

Regulatory Approvals and Compliance

  • Environmental Regulatory Compliance Advice to Major Petroleum Company—Advised a multinational oil and gas company about responding to complex regulatory matters concerning industrial environmental approvals. Responded to regulatory investigations and neighbouring complaints. Guided client through inspections, investigations and requirements by the environmental regulator, resulting in the client avoiding regulatory enforcement action.
  • Environmental Regulatory Advice to International Steel Manufacturer—Advising a steel manufacturing client about regulatory requirements for air, noise, odour and waste management issues. Assisting client to obtain regulatory approvals including an Environmental Compliance Approval for an on-site landfill.
  • Response to Federal Investigations of On–Road and Off-Road Vehicle and Engine Importers—Represented on-road and off-road engine and vehicle importers during investigations about compliance with federal air emissions standards. Prepared due diligence submissions, resulting in closure of the investigations without regulatory prosecution.

Environmental Litigation

  • Defence of ECA Appeal Before the Environmental Review Tribunal—Defending the appeal of a client’s Environmental Compliance Approval for a wastewater treatment system and stormwater system before Ontario’s ERT.
  • Appeal of ECAs for Food Manufacturers—Representing multiple food manufacturing clients to oppose the issuance of Environmental Compliance Approvals to a neighbouring industrial operation with high environmental risk.
  • Settlement of Environmental Civil Litigation About Contaminant Migration—Represented commercial property owners to negotiate a settlement in favour of the clients in excess of $1 million for migration of contamination from a former gas station onto the clients’ properties.

 

 

 

 

 

Recognition

Organizations

  • Hellenic Canadian Lawyers’ Association—Vice President and Board Member (2009-)
  • Ontario Bar Association and Canadian Bar Association—member (2008-)
  • Air & Waste Management Association—Board Member, Ontario Section (2011-)
  • Canadian Brownfields Network—member (2015-)

 

Speaking Engagements

May 03, 2017

CANECT 2017 - Waste Management, Diversion & Stewardship

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May 02, 2017

CANECT 2017 - Air, NOD & GHGs: Emissions Regulations & Compliance

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April 27, 2017

Maxxam Science Summit 2017: Soil Vapour, Site Assessment & Remediation

More

March 29, 2017

Licensed Engineering Practitioners' Liability Under the New EASR

More

March 28, 2017

Environmental Law: How Are You Impacted? (Kitchener Session)

More

March 21, 2017

Environmental Law: How Are You Impacted? (St. Catharines Session)

More

January 18, 2017

CBA/OBA Climate Change Legislation: Cross-Country Check-In Program

More

October 13, 2016

Connecting Climate Change to Brownfield Redevelopment, RemTech 2016

More

September 26, 2016

30th Annual Conference on Transportation Innovation and Cost Savings

More

June 14, 2016

Canadian Brownfields Network Conference: Brownfields - Revitalizing In A Changing Climate

More

May 10, 2016

2016 Land & Development Conference - Climate & Urbanism: How Is It Affecting Communities and Developments?

More

April 27, 2016

CANECT 2016 - Waste Management, Diversion & Stewardship

More

April 26, 2016

CANECT 2016 - Air, NOD & GHGs: Emissions Regulations & Compliance

More

December 02, 2015

Envirogate 2015: Managing Air and GHG Emissions - The New Essentials

More

November 05, 2015

OBA Passport Series: Best Practices for Environmental Management Systems

More

October 21, 2015

The Law Society of Upper Canada: The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2015

More

October 14, 2015

Managing Environmental Liabilities: Brownfields Case Law Update, RemTech 2015

More

October 07, 2015

A&WMA and ONEIA 2015 Waste Conference: Waste Management and GHG Reduction

More

June 17, 2015

Canadian Brownfields Network Conference: Brownfields Redevelopment: Past Successes, Future Plans

More

June 16, 2015

Land & Development Conference: The Challenges in the Industrial Market: Minimizing and Managing Environmental Liabilities: Getting the Deal Done

More

May 14, 2015

Air & Waste Management Association: Land Use Compatibility between Sensitive Land Uses and Nuisance Sources

More

April 29, 2015

CANECT 2015 - Waste Management, Reduction, Diversion & Stewardship

More

April 28, 2015

CANECT 2015 - Complying with New Rules for Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More

November 25, 2014

Envirogate 2014: Dealing with Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More

November 04, 2014

CCCA: Maneuvering Through Troubling Times for Directors and Officers

More

June 10, 2014

OWMA: Maneuvering Through Troubling Times for Directors and Officers

More

May 13, 2014

Real Estate Forum's 10th Annual Land & Development Conference

John Georgakopoulos will be speaking at the 10th Annual Land & Development Conference on "Developing Challenged Sites: The Need for Innovative Strategies and Patience". The panel will discuss maximizing development opportunities from brownfields and contaminated sites. From purchase to development, they will explore what you need to know regarding these challenged sites.

More

April 30, 2014

OBA: Developments in D&O Liability for Environmental Contamination

More

April 29, 2014

CANECT 2014: Air Emissions

More

April 28, 2014

CANECT 2014: What is Waste? What Should be Waste?

More

April 10, 2014

Air & Waste Management Association: What is waste? Definition of waste?

More

February 19, 2014

Sites & Spills Conference: Dealing with Environmental Consultant Blunders

More

November 27, 2013

What is "Waste?" What Impact Does This Have on Compliance?, Envirogate

More

October 17, 2013

Vapour Intrusion - Regulatory Framework and Case Law Review, RemTech 2013

More

October 09, 2013

The Six-Minute Environmental Lawyer 2013, Law Society of Upper Canada

More

September 11, 2013

Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Air & Waste Management Association

More

April 29, 2013 to May 01, 2013

21st Annual CANECT 2013

More

April 09, 2013

Environmental Liability Seminar, EcoLog Events

More

December 05, 2012

Envirogate – Dealing with Air, Noise, Odour and GHG Emissions

More

November 14, 2012

Fracking and the Management of Waste, Canadian Waste Sector Symposium

More

November 08, 2012

Shale Gas and Fracking: An International Perspective, International Sites and Spills Expo 2012

More

  • NPC 300: Legal Implications of the Draft Guideline, Air & Waste Management Association (Ontario Section), May 8, 2012
  • Greenhouse Gases - Legal Update, 20th Annual Canadian Environmental Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2012), Air & GHG Emissions, May 1, 2012
  • The Regulation of Shale Gas Fracking in Canada, University of Toronto, Environmental Law Club, March 22, 2012
  • Shale Gas Development: Shale Gas Basics, Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) Ontario Section, Hamilton Breakfast Series, March 8, 2012
  • The New Framework for Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 19th Annual Canadian Environmental Compliance Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2011), Air & GHG Emissions, May 17, 2011
  • Toxic Air Emissions: Federal, Ontario, Municipal Updates, Envirogate, Dealing with Industrial AIR and GHG Emissions, November 23, 2010
  • Ontario’s Toxics Reduction Act: Legal Implications, Canadian Pollution Prevention, Roundtable, June 3, 2010
  • The Environmental Law and Enforcement Framework, 18th Annual Canadian Environmental Compliance Conference + Tradeshow (CANECT 2010), Inspections & Investigations, May 5, 2010
  • Toxics Reduction Act: Legal Implications, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA), Environmental and Energy Conference, March 31, 2010
  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments: Avoiding Pitfalls and Perils, Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (AESAC), October 3, 2008

Articles

December 12, 2016

Canada and Most Provinces Agree to Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change

On December 9, 2016, the Government of Canada and most Canadian provinces adopted the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Th...

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November 11, 2016

Proposed Amendments to Environmental Legislation: Streamlined Approvals and Other Updates

The Ontario government has introduced new legislation and a draft regulation intended to reduce the regulatory burden and approvals process for som...

More

November 11, 2016

Making Environmental Approvals EAS(ie)R?

On September 26, 2016, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) posted a draft regulation that seeks to streamline the ap...

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November 11, 2016

Burden Reduction Act to Streamline Environmental Approvals and Compliance Checks

On September 27, 2016, the Minister of Economic Development and Growth reintroduced omnibus Bill 27, the Burden Reduction Act 2016, for First Readi...

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October 04, 2016

Canada Announces National Carbon Pricing by 2018

On July 28, 2016, we wrote about the Government of Canada’s intention to propose a plan for national carbon pricing in the fall. At the time,...

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October 04, 2016

Ontario’s Climate Change Expectations for Projects Undergoing Environmental Assessment

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) continues to roll out its Climate Change Action Plan with its proposed green...

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August 31, 2016

Canadian Industrial Facilities to Face National Air Standards for First Time

Earlier this summer, the Canadian government finalized the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations [MSAPR].  This is the first time Canada has...

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July 28, 2016

Canada to Introduce Plan for National Carbon Pricing

Since attending the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Paris, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have been in discus...

More

July 26, 2016

Alberta Provides Guidance on Use of Exposure Control to Manage Risks at Contaminated Sites

Alberta Environment and Parks has published a new guidance document entitled Alberta Exposure Control Guide (the "Guide"). The Guide outlines ...

More

July 21, 2016

MOECC’s Policy Review on Air Pollution, Fracking, Spills and Waste Diversion

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has released a status report on a series of policy reviews it is conducting in response ...

More

June 21, 2016

Will the Redwater Decision Encourage Reckless Abandon(ment) of Oil and Gas Wells in Alberta?

On May 19, 2016, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench released its decision in Redwater Energy Corporation (Re).  The issues at hand were ...

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April 27, 2016

Alberta’s New Remediation Requirements In Effect On May 1, 2016

On February 2, 2016, the Government of Alberta released its revised soil and groundwater remediation guidelines.  The Alberta Tier 1 Soil and ...

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April 27, 2016

Alberta’s Environmental Site Assessment Standard – New Guidance For Consultants and Property Owners

On March 1, 2016, the Government of Alberta published a guideline about the minimum requirements for environmental site assessments ("ESAs") in the...

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March 21, 2016

Ontario’s Cap and Trade Update

Ontario has forged ahead with its plans to introduce a Cap and Trade System, with the announcement of the Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon ...

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March 07, 2016

Building Owners Concerned About Proposed Energy and Water Regulation

Private sector owners of large buildings – commercial operations, multi-unit residential buildings and some industrial facilities – wil...

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February 23, 2016

Insurer off-the-hook for Release of Pollutants Caused by Fire

On January 14, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied Precision Plating Ltd.’s ("Precision Plating") application for leave to appeal the Br...

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November 30, 2015

Waste-Free Ontario Act: Ontario's Proposed New Waste Reduction Regime

On November 26, 2015, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) posted the proposed Waste-Free Ontario A...

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November 19, 2015

Ontario Releases Details on Proposed Cap and Trade Program

On November 16, 2015, Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (“MOECC”) posted details about Ontario’s pro...

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November 18, 2015

Ministry Updates Air Dispersion Models and Will Provide Advance Warning of Any Future Changes

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has adopted by reference into law the use of two updated air dispersion models under sec...

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November 12, 2015

COP21 and the New Reality of Ontario’s Cap-and-Trade Vision

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) is fast approaching (November 30 to Decembe...

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May 01, 2015

Supreme Court of Canada to Hear Fracking Case on Regulator Immunity

On April 30, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal with costs to Jessica Ernst for her claim against Alberta Energy Regulator (...

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November 18, 2014

Alberta Court Rules Novel Fracking Claim Against Province Has Reasonable Prospect of Success

On November 7, 2014, a decision by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta dismissed the Government of Alberta’s application to strike po...

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November 11, 2014

Largest Penalty in U.S. Clean Air Act History for Underreporting Emissions and Fuel Economy

On November 3, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced a proposed settlement between Kia, Hyundai, U.S. Government and ...

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September 19, 2014

Alberta Court of Appeal Upholds Regulator’s Immunity in Fracking Case

On September 15, 2014, Alberta’s Court of Appeal dismissed Jessica Ernst’s appeal of the lower court decision holding that Alberta&rsqu...

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June 26, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court GHG Decision Paves Way for New Coal-Fired Power Plant Emissions Regulations

On June 23, 2014, the United States Supreme Court held that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not, unilaterally, have the...

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May 01, 2014

Council of Canadian Academies Raises Questions on Environmental Impacts of Fracking – Current Regulations not Based on Strong Science

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has concluded that development of shale gas reserves is having "profound economic, environmental, and socia...

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March 11, 2014

Ontario’s New Air Standard for Pulp and Paper Operations and Guidelines for Large Wood-Fired Combustors

The Ontario Ministry of Environment has finalized the technology-based air pollution standard for pulp and paper mills (the Standard) and a propose...

More

February 13, 2014

Federal Budget 2014 Largely Quiet on Major Energy, Environment and Aboriginal Initiatives

From our perspective, the federal budget released February 11, 2014 was largely silent about major energy, environmental or Aboriginal announcement...

More

December 09, 2013

Ontario Updates Noise Guideline to Harmonize Approvals and Land Use Planning Decisions

After more than three years, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) has finally released its Environmental Noise Guideline, Stationary and Transportatio...

More

December 09, 2013

Special Fracking Update

NEB needs more data to assess fracking in NWT and Nunavut The National Energy Board (NEB) wants detailed information from energy companies in order...

More

December 09, 2013

MOE Freezes Waste Diversion Fees for Off-road Tires

In response to widespread complaints by manufacturers, dealers and consumers, Ontario has frozen the so-called “eco-fees” that are used...

More

April 09, 2013

Consultant Liability and Common Pitfalls

Consultant liability is a hot topic that permeates the environmental consulting world. John Georgakopoulos spoke on the topic at EcoLog Legislation’s Environmental iability Seminar on April 9, 2013 in Toronto.

More

  • “Environmental Undertakings: Making the Deal Stick”, 6th Annual Real Estate Law Summit (Toronto: LSUC, April 2009) [Co-authored with Donna Shier]
  • “Commercial Lease Provisions: Allocating Liability for Contamination and Environmental Remediation”, The Six-Minute Commercial Leasing Lawyer (Toronto: LSUC, February 2009) [Co-authored with Marc McAree]
  • “Direct Sales: A Common Challenge for Lawyers and Title Agents”, The Six-Minute Real Estate Lawyer (Toronto: LSUC, November 2007) [Co-authored with Kathleen Waters of LawPRO]
  • Storage Tanks in Canada: The Guide to Environmental Regulation and Compliance (Toronto: Templegate Information Services Inc., 2006) [Editor, drafter and researcher for Douglas Petrie of Willms & Shier]
  • “Monitoring and Regulation of Odours – An Oxymoron?” (Oak Brook, IL: Air and Waste Management Association Conference, 2005) [Co-authored with John Willms of Willms & Shier]
  • “The Evolution of Air Emissions Inventories in Ontario, Canada” (Clearwater, FL: USEPA International Conference, 2004) [Co-authored with Peter Wong and Nicholas Ting of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment]
  • 2001 Inventory of Toxic Air Emissions: Point, Area and Mobile Sources (Ann Arbor, MI: Great Lakes Commission/USEPA, 2004) [Co-editor and Author of the Ontario Chapter]

Books

News

August 27, 2014

John Georgakopoulos Selected as Finalist in Lexpert Rising Stars - Leading Lawyers Under 40 Competition

Congratulations to Willms & Shier partner John Georgakopoulos for being selected as a Finalist in Lexpert's "Rising Stars - Leading Lawyers Und...

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March 31, 2014

Informa: Developing Challenged Sites: The Need for Innovative Strategies and Patience

John Georgakopoulos is a panelist at the 10th Annual Land & Development Conference to discuss maximizing development opportunities from br...

More

February 26, 2014

Conference: CANECT 2014 - Waste Management, Air Emissions and Water & Wastewater Programs

Willms & Shier partners and associates are Chairs and speakers at CANECT’s 22nd Annual Conference on Environmental Compliance Essentials....

More

February 13, 2014

Federal Budget 2014 Largely Quiet on Major Energy, Environment and Aboriginal Initiatives

From our perspective, the federal budget released February 11, 2014 was largely silent about major energy, environmental or Aboriginal announcement...

More

February 07, 2014

Conference: Sites & Spills: Dealing with Environmental Consultant Blunders

John Georgakopoulos will be presenting the Sites & Spills Conference: Dealing with Environmental Consultant Blunders.  For more informa...

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December 09, 2013

Ontario Updates Noise Guideline to Harmonize Approvals and Land Use Planning Decisions

After more than three years, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) has finally released its Environmental Noise Guideline, Stationary and Transportatio...

More

December 09, 2013

Special Fracking Update

NEB needs more data to assess fracking in NWT and Nunavut The National Energy Board (NEB) wants detailed information from energy companies in order...

More

December 09, 2013

MOE Freezes Waste Diversion Fees for Off-road Tires

In response to widespread complaints by manufacturers, dealers and consumers, Ontario has frozen the so-called “eco-fees” that are used...

More

November 28, 2013

Conference: Sites & Spills Conference, February 19-20, 2014

Willms & Shier Partners, John Willms, Marc McAree and John Georgakopoulos present on environmental liability and dealing with environ...

More

November 01, 2013

Conference: Willms & Shier Presenting at Envirogate 2013 November 26-27

Envirogate's 20th Annual Conference on Environmental Compliance Essentials will be well-represented by Willms & Shier November 26-27, 2013 ...

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November 23, 2012

John Georgakopoulos Quoted in Article - BC Leading Way in Frack Fluid Disclosure

HazMat Management magazine mentions Willms & Shier environmental lawyer John Georgakopoulos' talk on regulatory aspects of fracking in Canada from the 2nd International Sites and Spills Expo in Toronto.

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Education

  • Certified as a Specialist in Environmental Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada (2016)
  • Called to the bars of Ontario (2008), Alberta (2013)

  • LL.B., University of Ottawa (2007)

  • M.Sc., Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Toronto (1999)

  • B.Sc. (Hons.), Environmental Science and Management, University of Toronto (1997)

 

Expertise

"The firm is one of, if not the best enviro law firm in the country ..."

Senior Litigation Counsel