John Cruden

John Cruden

John is currently a Principal at the Environmental Law Firm of Beveridge and Diamond, Washington, DC, where he provides strategic counsel on high-stakes environmental and natural resources litigation, civil and criminal enforcement, and compliance. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association.

For more than two decades, John served as a senior leader on environment and natural resource matters at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), where he supervised some of the department’s most significant litigation, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Love Canal, and Bunker Hill litigation. As the Senate-confirmed, Assistant Attorney General, ENRD, John worked on the most high-profile environment cases, and personally negotiated the multi-billion dollar resolutions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Volkswagen emissions scandal. These two cases were announced by the Attorney General as the largest of their type in the history of the Department of Justice. John also served as the Co-Chair of President Obama’s Task Force on Illegal Wildlife Trafficking. He has testified numerous times before Congress and published over a dozen law review articles on environmental issues.

As the former President of the Environmental Law Institute, the former Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources, and the past President of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, John has led each of the premier environmental organizations in the United States. In addition, he was the first government attorney to be elected and serve as the President of the District of Columbia Bar, now the largest bar in the nation.

Professional Background

John’s leadership is a defining characteristic of his long and distinguished legal career. Before joining the DOJ, John was the Chief Legislative Counsel of the U.S. Army. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, John served in Airborne, Ranger, and Special Forces units in Germany and Vietnam. His subsequent military assignments include as a criminal prosecutor in Germany and civil trial lawyer in the Pentagon; Chief of Litigation Branch, Europe; General Counsel, Defense Nuclear Agency; Staff Judge Advocate in Germany; and Director of Administrative and Civil Law, Judge Advocate General’s School, Charlottesville, Virginia. His military education includes being a Fellow, Army War College, and the Command and General Staff College. He is a graduate of the University of Santa Clara Law school (summa cum laude) and the University of Virginia (MA with honors).

John’s awards for government and military service include the President Rank Award from three different Presidents, the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

John is also a swim coach for a special olympic team and has received the Fairfax County volunteer of the year award for his work with handicapped children. He is married with two children.


· United States Military Academy (B.S., 1968)

· Santa Clara University (J.D., summa cum laude, 1974)

· University of Virginia (M.A., 1975)

Affiliations and Honors

· Who’s Who Legal, part of Law Business Research Ltd., recognition in Environmental Law (2018)

· The Legal 500, recognition in Environmental Litigation and Regulatory Law (2019)

· American Bar Association Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2020

· Department of Justice Muskie-Chaffee Award, 2017

· District of Columbia Bar Association Government Lawyer of the Year, 2017

· District of Columbia Bar Association Legends in the Law 2015

· Santa Clara Law Distinguished Alumni Award

Other Links

Currently Teaching

Environmental Law in a Practice Setting Spring 2022