LDEQ’s first Black general counsel retires after 35 years

Harman Robinson LDEQ

If you called central casting and asked for someone to play a lawyer, you’d probably get someone who looks a lot like Herman Robinson.

Tall, with a dignified posture and deep voice, Robinson was perfect for the part of the first Black general counsel at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ).

But before serving in that capacity, before he was even employed by LDEQ, Robinson was an Army officer. He had been in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Southern University, where he earned an undergraduate degree in history. Entering the Army in 1972, Robinson served in various leadership capacities for seven years.  He was in the ordinance corps, serving as both a platoon leader and company commander. His military service included a 13 month-stint in Korea and a lot of time at what he fondly calls “Camp Swampy” – Fort Stewart in Savannah, Ga.

“My next assignment would have been in Germany,” Robinson recalled. “I decided to go ahead and get out and go to law school,” he said. “After sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere for two weeks during a training operation at Fort Bragg, N.C., it seemed to me that a nice, clean, air-conditioned courtroom or law office would be a good workplace to aspire to. So, I decided to go to law school.”

“I sometimes regret I didn’t stay in. I enjoyed being in the service. It was a great experience.”

His decision was made, though, and he was honorably discharged from the Army with the rank of captain. He returned to Louisiana to pursue a juris doctorate from Southern. In 1982, Robinson began a legal career at LDEQ that would span 35 years.

During his tenure at the LDEQ, Robinson held the positions of staff attorney, administrative law judge (ALJ), ALJ administrator, assistant secretary, and, most recently, general counsel.

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