GETTING TO KNOW: Kurt Kissling

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Kurt Kissling, a partner in the Southfield office of Warner, Norcross, & Judd, is an environmental attorney who specializes in permitting, compliance, enforcement and advocacy related to the Clean Air Act as well as its state and local counterparts.

Regional and national clients across a variety of industries rely on his expertise to address complex air and waste matters that impact their operations. These industries include: agribusiness, automotive, cement, chemical, consumer products, ethanol, glass, lead smelting, manufacturing, mining, petroleum, pulp and paper, steel, remediation, utility, waste-to-energy and wood products.

In addition to routinely organizing and speaking at environmental programs, Kissling serves on the Board of the East Michigan Chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association, on the Council for the Environmental Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and as chair of the Environmental Law Section’s Air Committee.

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

What is your proudest moment as a lawyer?
My assortment of pro bono projects collectively provide a precious source of pride and perspective. My past work has involved fighting for LGBTQ rights on behalf of the ACLU, pursuing benefits for military veterans, assisting refugees, and even helping draft environmental guidelines for the U.S. Department of Defense. Although these represent very different types of work, every one of these efforts inspired—and inspires—me to become a better attorney. 

What inspired you to enter the field?
My friends and family might point to an allegedly argumentative personality, but I disagree.

When you were considering law school, what was Plan B?
My undergraduate degree is in civil engineering and I picked up a chemistry minor, but I was definitely split between an engineering job and law school until I started interviewing for entry-level engineering jobs.

What was your favorite family tradition as a child?
Vacationing with Griswold-esque road trips in the family minivan to see National Parks, presidential museums, and other cultural treasures ... although we somehow missed “Walley World.”

What would surprise people about your job?
As an environmental attorney, much of my work takes place outside a courtroom. Despite some cases and appeals, much of my practice involves working with clients and agency personnel, most of whom are not attorneys. Thus, while I sometimes argue before the Court of Appeals or negotiate with the U.S. Department of Justice, the majority of my work involves air permitting and compliance work with state agencies across the country.

What are you looking forward to?
A return to working in Detroit next year, when Warner’s new office opens next door to Little Caesars Arena.

What is one thing you would like to learn to do?
Find a few more hours in the day!

Favorite local hangouts?

I often find myself in Hamtramck for festivals, summer softball, Detroit City FC games, and general mischief.

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