Mrs. Diffenderfer assists landowners, businesses and governments with local, state and federal, environmental, natural resource and land use issues. Michelle helps clients navigate these various legal requirements for permitting land development and infrastructure projects.
Areas of Practice
Represents local and state governments and special districts as special counsel on environmental, natural resource and water resource issues.
Represents the Seminole Tribe of Florida as special environmental counsel, including casino related development and water resource issues on the Tribe’s various reservations and land holdings.
Gains permitting and approvals for private development and public infrastructure projects involving complex issues related to wetlands, mitigation, threatened and endangered species, water quality, and drainage.
Represents landowners and governments in the review, preparation and comment on Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.
Represents landowners and governments in the development, implementation and interpretation of Water Supply Policy, Plans, and Regulations.
Represents clients in due diligence, permitting and compliance issues with the South Florida Water Management District, Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Represents clients in the development of Biological Opinions, Habitat Conservation Plans and in the issuance of Incidental Take Permits and related consultation with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Publications and Presentations
Hot Topics in Wetlands and Water, presented at the Local Government Law in Florida Conference, May 2017
Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries, presented at the Florida Chamber Environmental Permitting Summer School, July 2016
EPA Clean Water Rule, presented at the American Bar Association Spring Conference, April 2016
Clearer or More Confusing? Final Waters of the U.S. Rule Change Remains Murky, presented at the Florida Bar Environmental and Land Use Section Conference, January 2016
New USEPA Report on Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands May Affect CWA Jurisdiction, Journal of American Water Works Association, March 2014
Florida's New Crop: Is Water Farming For You?, Journal of the American Water Works Association, December 2013
Secondary and Cumulative Impacts Analysis and the Clean Water Act, Journal American Water Works Association, July 2012
Secondary and Cumulative Impacts Analysis in the Environmental Context for Assessing Environmental Damage, WestLaw Journal: Environmental, June 2012
Who Gets the Water? A Competition for a Limited Resource, Journal American Water Works Association, March 2012
Greenwashing: What Your Client Should Know to Avoid Costly Litigation and Consumer Backlash, American Bar Association's Natural Resources & Environment Publication, Winter 2011
Cumulative Impacts Analysis and Global Threats, presented at the ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Law Summit, October 2010
Greenwashing: A Guide to the Ethical Advertising of Green Products, Manatee Chamber of Commerce Current Magazine, December 2009
Two Tribes Embrace Green Development Practices for Off-Reservation Projects, Natural Resources & Environment, Fall 2009
Florida Water Law: Limited Availability in the Land of Abundance, presented at the Water Sustainability Plenary AIChE Spring National Meeting, April 2009
Overview of Federal and State Wetlands Protection Regulations, Florida Water Law & Policy, CLE International, October 2007
The Winds of Change…Storming into the Future, presented at the Florida Association of Special Districts Annual Conference, June 2006
What is an ARNI and Why Should You Care?, American Bar Association's Natural Resources & Environment Publication, March 2003
Endangered Species Conservation Banking, March 2002
Evolving Issues in Eastern Water Law
Professional, Civic and Community Involvement
American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Secretary
Leadership Florida, (Class of XXXIII) Gulfstream Council
Rosarian Academy Family Association, Board Member
The Episcopal Church of Bethesda by the Sea, Chancellor
Girls II Women, Inc., Past Chair
Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, Past Chair
The Florida Bar, Environmental and Land Use Law Section, Past Chair
Leadership Palm Beach County, Class of 2000
Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Executive Women of the Palm Beaches
U.S. Green Building Council, South Florida Chapter
Florida Association of Environmental Professionals
Palm Beach County Bar Association
Caribbean Bar Association
American Bar Foundation, Fellow
United Way, Women's Leadership Council
Awards and Recognitions
Martindale Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
The Florida Commission on the Status of Women, Florida Achievement Award, honoring individuals who have improved the lives of Florida women and/or have served as positive role models for women and girls in their communities, 2016
The Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches ATHENA® Award, honoring individuals that have achieved professional excellence, actively served the community, and helped women to reach their leadership potential, 2008
South Florida Legal Guide, Top Lawyer in Environmental Law, 2017
Families First of Palm Beach County, Harriet Goldstein Award, 2015
EmpowHER of the Palm Beaches, Palm Beach County’s Woman of Corporate Power 2015
The University of Miami School of Law Alumni Achievement Award, 2014
The Palm Beacher Magazine, Women in Power, 2014
The Caribbean-American Democratic Club of Palm Beach County, Community Change Maker Award for Environmental Advocacy, 2013
Business Leader Magazine’s Women Extraordinaire Award, 2011
Florida Super Lawyer, 2010-present
The International Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers, 2009-2015
Florida Trend Magazine’s Legal Elite, Environmental and Land Use Law, 2011