Legal Team

Diane Henkels


Practice Areas


  • Vermont Law School, J.D., M.S.E.L.
  • Whitman College, B.A.


  • Oregon
  • New York
  • Tribal Courts


Based in Portland, Oregon, and Newport, on Oregon’s central coast, Diane provides general counsel services for business and nonprofit entities, practices tribal and federal Indian law, and assists with community energy projects. Most of her business law experience involves including contract review and drafting, negotiation, and dispute resolution for forming entities, completing transactions, and dealing with environmental, real estate, professional licensing, and other related matters. She has substantial experience in the public sector including work in renewable energy policy with the Oregon Department of Energy, as in-house counsel with tribal governments working on natural resources, real estate, jurisdiction and tribal court matters, and as a BLM Resource Advisory Committee for the Salem, Oregon, District, among other roles.

A leader in the Oregon State Bar’s sustainability efforts since the beginning, Diane received the Bar’s President’s Sustainability Award in 2012. Having incorporated sustainability into all aspects of her training and practice, Diane is proficient at serving client’s needs while recognizing opportunities and implementing sustainability in client work and office practices. Diane presents and publishes often on law and sustainability, energy issues, and related topics for professional and lay audiences. While continuing on as an avid bike commuter, in 2012 Diane joined the ranks of non-motor vehicle in 2012, relying on contemporary car-sharing and electric vehicle for distance travel.

Diane has a B.A. in French Language and Literature from Whitman College, and a J.D. and Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. She completed her MELP with eight months of field work in Madagascar focusing on the nexus of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in a national park and actively assists efforts there. She is licensed to practice in Oregon and New York, and various tribal courts.

Representative Matters


  • Consulted with commercial and commercial agriculture facilities through obtaining energy conservation assessments through Energy Trust of Oregon and Oregon State University Energy Efficiency Center.
  • Advised entity regarding implementing U.S. E.P.A. Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and assessing and financing solar photovoltaic for the facility. Facility accomplished certification as Energy Star for 2010, 2011.
  • Consulted commercial clients for obtaining solar photovoltaic and solar thermal assessments.
  • Participate as subcontractor in bidding process for community solar projects in Portland metro area including preparing RFP responses, interviewing, and implementing a project as successful bidder. Projects include public and private procurement bidding processes, and a successful bid for a Living Building Challenge project.
  • Advise Oregon counties regarding community wind energy development. Reviewed associated land use issues and prepared decision framework, recommended framework for project fatal flaws analyses, obtained consultant committed estimates for resource potential, wildlife review, other permitting issues, interconnection review, and assisted local government staff in putting together funding proposal and achieving stage of enrolling project for funding.
  • Advised rural residential clients on solar power purchase agreement and volumetric incentive rate pilot project.
  • Advise tribal staff regarding anemometer siting on lands within Tribe’s former reservation for possible wind energy facility siting.
  • Represented commercial apiary (agricultural) operation, in obtaining solar photovoltaic and thermal assessments for propane and electricity powered facility; facility currently seeking to implement solar project/s.
  • Intervene in public utility docket regarding utility rates paid to community renewable energy projects under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978.


  • Proposed, negotiated, drafted and successfully implemented a Supplemental Environmental Project among state Department of Environmental Quality, fish processing plant, and watershed council regarding fish plant’s water quality compliance issue. SEP resulted in drawing settlement funding to rural area for use on local projects.
  • Advised tribal client in enforcing water quality standards compliance on tribal lands. Legal research, analysis, and memo served as basis for Tribal action regarding enforcement against non-tribal residents of non-Indian fee real estate located within the reservation boundaries.
  • Environmental law research, analysis, and writing for rural county regarding recovery from chemical releases from a federal facility. Work resulted in invitation to publish research and a law review article.
  • Analyze permits and present testimony regarding Clean Water Act compliance and Army Corps of Engineers and Department of State Lands joint permit.
  • Participated as party to in municipal water rights extension case where municipality had sought to secure additional 20 years water rights extension on a fish bearing stream. Extended contested case negotiations with the Oregon Water Resources Department and local municipalities resulted in settlement, ensuring an instream flow over what was required by law.
  • Represented rural land owner in Anti-SLAPP suit (Strategic Law Suit against Public Participation) county land use case. Prepared and filed Special Motion to Strike resulting in striking provisions violating client’s free speech rights to participate in the land use regulation process. Client prevailed in subsequent proceedings.
  • Prepared Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board grant for a comprehensive water conservation project linking water conservation savings from capital improvements to be installed at a fish processing plant with municipal water supply and secondary source water originating in local fish bearing streams.
  • Protected Native American cultural resources by enforcing the National Historic Preservation Act. Advised tribal client regarding enforcement precedents and Memoranda of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Energy


  • Consult businesses and individuals in business entity formation, transformation, drafting corporate articles, bylaws, creating minute books and bringing entities into corporate law compliance, training new business owners and officers.
  • Assist in several corporate merger and acquisition transactions of business entities in rural Oregon including hotels, restaurants, fishing and other floating vessels, waste removal. Conducted due diligence, drafted transaction documents, deeds, promissory notes, trust deeds, bills of sale, recording documents; assisted in negotiating with buyers, sellers, financers; participated in negotiations, represented clients in dispute resolution.
  • Advise clients regarding professional licensing matters. Represented client before Oregon Landscape Architecture Board regarding investigation of client’s sustainability consulting services. Case resolved in favor of client with no furthur action required (2011).
  • Review and prepare contracts, memoranda of understanding, memoranda of agreement between private parties, local government and private parties, tribal government and federal agencies, tribal government and local businesses and governments.
  • Represent businesses and employees in dispute resolution and litigation in state, tribal and federal fora. Co-counsel with other law firms as appropriate.

Examples of writings and presentations:

  • “Community Renewable Energy, the 8% Solution” poster designed depicting Oregon’s community renewable energy implementation including policy, examples, planning and implementation considerations. Poster received commendation by leading community energy advocates, and resulted in invitations to speak on the topic in other venues.
  • “Community Renewable Energy Projects” in the states’ utility structure to graduate students and faculty at Oregon State University Renewable Materials program in OSU School of Forestry.
  • “Pacific Northwest Energy Digest” produced monthly since May 2010 providing a regulatory calendar for mostly government energy events in the region. Readership includes seasoned energy professionals and all those interested from private, public, academic, profit, nonprofit, and residential sectors.
  • Conceptualized, organized, and chaired continuing legal education program on “Sustainability and Law” for the Oregon State Bar Leadership College preparing program content, structure, speakers, written materials, and presenting on background. Program received excellent reviews from 30 attending lawyers and judges and resulted in repeat program and invitation to present in local bar venues.
  • Initiate, organize and successfully staff and fund community wind tour of out of state coastal community energy wind project. Tour resulted in collaboration of two community based energy projects, of which one is in feasibility funding stage.