Theodore J. Griswold

Professional Summary

Theodore J. Griswold has counseled clients on Native American governance, intergovernmental agreements, alternative energy, natural and cultural resources, wetlands, habitat, environmental and land use matters. As the Chair of the Native American team, Ted's practice focuses on Native American governments and tribal land issues including self-determination compacts and contracts, fee to trust applications, land and natural resource planning, board governance training, tribal code and ordinance development, welfare general ordinance programs, leasing, tribal property clean up, federal permitting, water supply development and protection, water quality, stormwater plans, tribal utilities and infrastructure, intergovernmental agreements, and tribal cultural resource protections and policies. He regularly assists Tribal, public agency and private clients in negotiating and receiving permit approvals from all permitting agencies, including Tribal Governments, Bureau of Indian Affairs, California Department of Transportation, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, California Regional Water Quality Control Board, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, California Coastal Commission and various municipalities.


  • 2019 West Coast Top Rated Lawyers, ALM
  • Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent Rating
  • “Top Lawyers,” San Diego Magazine, 2013-2018
  • San Diego Super Lawyers® – 2007-2010, 2012-2015 (Environmental) 2013 (Native American Law)



  • Maataam NakaShin – Pro Bono Counsel
  • Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference Advisory Board - Member
  • American Indian Recruitment Program – Board Member
  • Ocean Discovery Institute – Board of Directors, Living Lab Design and Construction Committee Chair
  • San Diego State University – College of Sciences Dean’s Corporate Advisory Board
  • Studio Earth Alliance (SEA) – Founding Member
  • Tribal Tax Consortium (Development of multi-tribal think tank to discuss the interplay between tribal sovereignty and state and local taxing authority)
  • American Bar Association – Native American Resources Committee
  • Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation – Advisor
  • University of California Los Angeles School of Law Moot Court Competition, Leaders Project – Judge and Participant
  • San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership – Advisory Board (Past)
  • San Dieguito River Watershed – Technical Advisory Committee (Past)
  • State of California, Department of Toxic Substance Control – Site Mitigation Update Advisory Group (Past)
  • City of San Diego, Wetlands Advisory Board – Policy and Legislative Subcommittee (Past)
  • California Indian Legal Services – Pro Bono Co-Counsel (Past)


  • JD, University of San Diego School of Law, magna cum laude, 1992
  • MS (Coastal Ecology), San Diego State University, 1987
  • BS (Biology), San Diego State University, magna cum laude, 1985

News Coverage

  • Andrew Westney. “Gold King Spill Vows Could be Fool’s Gold for Pruitt,” Law 360, August 18, 2017.


  • “Introduction to Tribal Governments and the California Law Practice,” Legal Secretaries, Inc. - Specialty Law Workshop, Viejas Casino & Resort, Alpine, California, February 16, 2019.
  • “Effective Tribal Participation in Development of Future GSPs:  Processes for Tribal Involvement and Challenge.”  Tribal Water Law in California.”  Law Seminars International, Rincon Resort, Valley Center, California, October 25, 2017.
  • “Practicing Native American Law in Southern California” - Combined San Diego Area Native American Law School Associations, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, October 9, 2017. 
  • “Strategies for Environmental Leadership” Keynote Address, Environmental Leadership Academy Banquet, Temecula, California, October 5, 2017.
  • “Indian Self-Determination Education and Assistance Act.”  Board of Directors’ Training for Transition from Title I-Title V.”  California Region, Indian Health Services, Viejas Resort, June 29, 2017.
  • Indian Health Services Board of Directors: “Duty, Roles and Responsibilities” provided for California Area Office, Indian Health Services, in Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, Title I to Title V Training, Viejas Casino & Resort, June 27-29, 2017.
  • "Development of GSAs and GSPs: Effective Tribal Participation in the State's Processes," The Fourth Annual Advanced Conference on Tribal Water Law in California,  Law Seminars International, Valley Center, Ca, October 28, 2016.
  • “Local Environmental Leadership in Facing Climate Change”  Keynote Address, CSU San Marcos Environmental Leadership Academy,  Temecula Creek Inn,  October 13, 2016.
  • "Laws Regarding Conservation of Species in Wildlife Corridors," Animal Law Symposium, presented by the San Diego County Bar Association and the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, San Diego, CA, September 10, 2016.
  • "Tribal Governments Essential Business Considerations," San Diego County Bar Association, National American Lawyers Association of SDCBA Labor and Employment Section, July 25, 2016.
  • "Tribal Governance Processes for Agencies and Developers - How Tribal Decision Making Bodies Work," presented at "Structuring Government-to-Government Consultation, Including Tips for Designing Consultation Structures to Maintain the Confidentiality of Communications," Morongo Indian Reservation, Cabazon, CA, June 20, 2016.
  • "Building your Environmental Leadership Toolbox", Keynote address to the Environmental Leadership Academy Banquet, Temecula Civic Center, October 8, 2015.
  • "Open Meetings Laws and Tribal Governments," Presentation to Tribal Governments, Alpine, CA, August 19, 2015.
  • "Definition of Waters of the United States: Update on US EPA Rule", San Diego Association of Environmental Professionals, San Diego, CA, Sept 16, 2015.
  • "CEQA, AB52 and Associated Tribal Governmental Issues," Kumeyaay Cultural Committee, Alpine, CA, July 14, 2015.
  • Panelist. "Comprehensive Environmental Review: Natural Resource Management Plans and Tribal Master Plans," The Second Annual Comprehensive Conference on Tribal Environmental Quality Protection, Cabazon, CA, June 23, 2015.
  • Panelist. "Inside the 2014 Kaleidoscope Award Winner Boardroom: Ocean Discovery Institute (ODI)," USD Nonprofit Governance Conference, San Diego, CA, January 9, 2015.
  • Keynote Speaker. “Becoming a Leader in Your Environmental Profession,” California State University San Marcos Environmental Leadership Academy, Temecula, CA, October 9, 2014.
  • “Key Elements of Tribal Environmental Ordinances, Policies and Resource Management Plans,” Tribal Environmental Quality Protection, Cabazon, California, May 13, 2014.
  • “Environmental and Land Use Law: Awareness of Hurdles Before Investing in Land in San Diego,” University of San Diego, Burnham Real Estate Institute, 2009-2016.
  • “Environmental Law in Southern California,” California State University San Marcos Environmental Leadership Academy, Temecula, CA, October 10, 2013.