Carol E. Dinkins is a partner with Vinson & Elkins, where she chairs the environmental law practice. She is a former member of the Firm’s Management Committee. She received her baccalaureate degree in 1968 from The University of Texas at Austin, and her law degree in 1971 from the University of Houston Law Center. Ms. Dinkins joined Vinson & Elkins in 1973 and was admitted to the partnership in 1980. In 1981 she was appointed assistant attorney general in charge of the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1984 she was appointed deputy attorney general of the United States, the second-ranking official in the Department of Justice. She rejoined the Firm in 1985. In 2006-2008, while maintaining her full-time law practice with Vinson & Elkins, she chaired the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an entity within the White House Executive Office of the President.
In her practice, Ms. Dinkins represents clients in administrative proceedings before various federal agencies and in state and federal litigation. She has obtained requisite governmental approvals of major new facilities as well as defended challenges under NEPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Historic Preservation Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act to construction of such projects for clients including industries, developers, and governmental entities. She has negotiated consent decrees and administrative consent orders under CERCLA, RCRA, TSCA, the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Air Act, conducted internal inquiries and represented clients in criminal investigations, pleas, sentencing, probation and debarment matters. She advises clients on corporate environmental policy and compliance.
Ms. Dinkins has served in three positions of Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation, and has chaired one Presidential and three Gubernatorial task forces. She was a member of the ABA board of governors 2005-2008 and is a past chair of the board of editors of the ABA Journal. In 2002-03, she chaired the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which rates all nominees for Article III courts. She held various officer positions, including chair, on the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization. Previously, she chaired the Texas Chapter’s Board of Trustees for three years, for which she remains trustee emeritus. In 1997, Governor George W. Bush appointed her as a commissioner on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and in 2000 to chair the Governor’s Task Force on Conservation.
In 1999, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession awarded Carol the Margaret Brent Award for Women Lawyers of Achievement. Earlier that year, the National Law Journal recognized her as one of the nation’s fifty most influential women lawyers. In 1982 The American Lawyer named her the best Justice Department litigating division chief to serve under U.S. Attorney General William French Smith. In 2000 she was honored as Outdoors Woman of the Year in the TNN nationally-televised Concert for Conservation and, also in 2000, was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2008 Ms. Dinkins was inducted into the first class of the American College of Environmental Lawyers and she served as its President in 2010 - 2011.