Ian L. Sandison


Mr. Sandison’s practice focuses on environmental / land use law and litigation. He routinely represents businesses, landowners, and government agencies in complex development projects, administrative hearings and related appeals, enforcement actions, environmental civil litigation, permitting, compliance, and financing.  Mr. Sandison has worked on a variety of projects including commercial, industrial, and residential projects on the islands of Hawai’i, Maui, Kauai, and Oahu. His work on behalf of clients is distinguished by the orchestrated, strategic, and nuanced approach he brings to bear on large complex projects. When appropriate, he assembles a team of skilled legal professionals and professionals from other disciplines, to work with the client to put together a plan that will achieve the client’s goals and is likely to survive future court challenges. Past interdisciplinary teams have included planners, archeologists, architects, other engineers (Mr. Sandison himself is a licensed professional engineer), public relations practitioners, and lenders.

Recent matters include serving as lead counsel for the University of Hawaii in connection with successfully obtaining a conservation district use permit for the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea; representing Kamehameha Schools in connection with EPA enforcement matters and environmental civil litigation; and supervising environmental due diligence and risk allocation in connection with Mahi Pono’s purchase of agricultural land on Maui.

In 2015, 2020, 2022, and 2024, Mr. Sandison was named “Lawyer of the Year” for Litigation – Environmental in Honolulu by The Best Lawyers® in America. He has been listed in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Real Estate: Environment in Hawaii since 2018. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2005 and is currently listed for Administrative / Regulatory Law, Environmental Law and Litigation – Environmental. He was also selected by attorney peers for inclusion in Super Lawyers® for Environmental Law in 2013 and 2016 – 2024.

Prior to joining Watanabe Ing, Mr. Sandison was a partner at Carlsmith Ball LLP.

  • University of Hawai‘i Richardson School of Law, J.D.
  • University of Hawai‘I, B.S.C.E.
Community Involvement
Notable Cases