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  • Ohio, 1991
  • U.S. District Court Southern District of Ohio


Lewis and Clark's Northwestern School of Law, J.D., 1990; Certificate in Environmental/Natural Resources Law, 1990

College of Wooster, B.A., 1987


A third generation garbage man, Mr. Durham has litigated more than 1,000 environmental cases, advised local governments on solid waste and recycling collection contracts and worked with clients regarding all types of enforcement issues.  He is a member of Eastman & Smith and has represented cities, counties, local health districts, solid waste management districts, townships and villages.

As the chair of Eastman & Smith’s Environmental and Public Law Section, Joe Durham coordinates the Firm’s Environmental, Public Law, and Solid Waste Management Practice Groups.  Mr. Durham worked at his family’s hauling business during high school and college.  After completing law school with a certificate in environmental and natural resources law, he was appointed as the first environmental prosecutor for Franklin County, Ohio.  He has litigated environmental cases at the local, state and federal level as a Franklin County assistant prosecuting attorney and a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. In 2018 he was added to Best Lawyers in America® for Environmental Law.

            Mr. Durham’s understanding of the waste hauling industry is critical to his representation of public entities (solid waste districts, counties, municipalities, townships and health districts), whether it involves solid waste and recycling collection contracts, landfills, recycling facilities, drafting rules and plans, flow control, compliance, or enforcement.   Mr. Durham is a pioneer in litigation before the Franklin County Environmental Court and has litigated nuisance cases involving drug houses, prostitution and human trafficking, apartments, condominiums, motels, hotels, illegal gambling and race tracks.

            Since 1991, Mr. Durham has been advising local health district clients.  He has litigated cases involving nuisances, solid and hazardous wastes, construction and demolition debris, landfills, recyclable materials, sewage, water and air pollution.  One of the few public health lawyers in private practice, Mr. Durham has participated as a subject matter expert for the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) during the development of Public Health and the Law: An Emergency Preparedness Training Kit.  He is a frequent speaker at national public health conferences and formerly participated on NACCHO’s Public Health Law Workgroup, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

            Mr. Durham is the author of the Environmental Investigation Resource Guide and routinely provides training on: hazardous materials and Department of Transportation regulations; National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permit requirements; and environmental investigations.  He has represented clients before the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Review Appeals Commission, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Commerce, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, the Ohio Real Estate Commission, County Boards of Revision (real estate tax appeals), Ohio Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Board of Nursing, Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulation (BUSTR), the United States Custom and Border Protection, local boards of zoning appeals, and regional water and sewer districts.           

When not practicing law, Mr. Durham is a member of the Columbus Bar Association, Environmental Committee, and the Ohio State Bar Association.  His entire family volunteers for the Columbus Public Schools Special Olympics program.  Mr. Durham’s wife has coached volleyball for more than twenty years while he previously coached basketball, softball and currently participates as a golf partner.  Mr. Durham served a long tenure on the board of directors, and currently organizes the annual charity golf outing fundraiser and acts as the volleyball director at the Sports Classic. 

Honors & Affiliations

Community/Professional Affiliations

  • Columbus Bar Association
  • Ohio State Bar Association

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