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R. Lee Vail, P.E., Ph.D.

Phone: 504.620.3356
Fax: 504.585.3051
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Lee Vail is a partner in the New Orleans office of Kean Miller.  He joined the firm in 2010 and practices in the environmental regulatory, Process Safety Management, emergency response, and intellectual property groups.  He is a Registered Professional Engineer in Louisiana and holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining Kean Miller, Lee served as Manager of Environmental Affairs for a worldwide oil and gas company.

Lee brings more than 30 years of process engineering, project management, process safety management, and environmental regulatory experience in the petroleum refining industry to the representation of industry clients. His expertise includes sophisticated interaction on behalf of industry clients in connection with regulatory compliance and permitting, Process Safety Management (PSM), Risk Management Program (RMP), RAGAGEP, Process Safety Information (PSI), OSHA, EPA, and CSB investigations, release reporting, incident management, and litigation avoidance.

Lee is also a registered Patent Attorney and is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Representative Experience

  • Representation of a major chemical production facility in the management of complex OSHA, EPA, and other administrative agency investigations following an explosion and fire at its Louisiana facility
  • Representation of a major midstream petroleum company in negotiations with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in reference to a compliance order and notice of penalty
  • Representation of a major paper company in negotiations with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in reference to a compliance order and notice of penalty
  • Representation of a global fertilizer company in the negotiation of an Engineering Services Agreement for Front End Engineering and the Licensing Agreement for necessary technology in connection with a multi-billion dollar Louisiana facility expansion
  • Successfully appealed previously rejected patent application before the Patent Appeal Board by redrafting rejected claims (prepared by another) and filing a successful Appeal Brief, leading to the issuance of a patent
  • Successful negotiations on behalf of a pipeline owner before the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation, regarding a desired non-applicability determination, i.e., that the product carried by the line would not fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Conservation. The decision exempted our client from pipeline safety regulations.


Lee earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Louisiana State University in 1978.  He earned his M.S. in Petroleum Engineering from Tulane University in 1983 and his M.B.A. from the University of New Orleans in 1987. Lee earned his J.D., cum laude, in 2010 from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, where he was recognized as a Crowe Scholar.  He earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Tulane University in 1990.


  • Admitted, Louisiana, 2010; Texas, 2016; United States Patent and Trademark Office

Articles, Publications and Presentations

Community Service

  • President, Board of Directors, Lafayette Square Conservancy