Growing up, Margaret Arenas Malek lived in eight major cities in the United States and Latin America
and spoke three languages. It was an unconventional childhood, but one that brought her an
appreciation of diverse cultures and people. While her family was living in Rio de
Janeiro, Margaret's father, an urban planner, walked with her through the favelas
densely populated hillside squatter slums. Witnessing first-hand the devastating effects
of poverty and pollution had a profound effect on her, resulting in a lifelong interest
in the link between the environment and human health.
Margaret received a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography from the University of
Washington in 1982. After college she worked on a tanker crew as a forest firefighter
in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state, part of the first wave of women in
the U.S. Forest Service. Before starting law school, she worked as a cartographer for
an engineering company, where her maps were used by the U.S. Department of Justice in
the International Court of Justice at The Hague for a case involving a natural resources
maritime boundary dispute.
She received her Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law of The American
University in 1987. During law school, she interned with the Honorable Ricardo M.
Urbina, of the District of Columbia Superior Court, and clerked for Hale and
Dorr and the Environmental Protection Agency. She co-founded the Hispanic Law Association,
was vice president of the student bar association, and taught English to newly arrived
immigrants. In recognition of her service to the community, American University awarded
her the University Student Award.
After law school Margaret worked on litigation regarding the Clean Water Act and
Safe Drinking Water Act for the national headquarters of the Environmental Protection
Agency in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Monitoring. She drafted policy and
regulations and managed 35 Region IV (southern United States) cases in
various stages of litigation. She also worked in London, England, as a consultant
for an international environmental company, analyzing the implementation of the
European Economic Community environmental directives in member countries.
Later, in Boston, Margaret served as an Assistant Attorney General, representing the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts in Superfund litigation in state and federal courts.
Significant cases included a hazardous waste case with over 200 defendants
and an environmental bankruptcy case involving over 30 contaminated sites.
Margaret is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and Maryland and several federal appeals
and district courts. Margaret is a council member of the Access to Justice Section Council of
the Massachusetts Bar Association and serves on the Board of Directors of English at Large
(formerly Eastern Massachusetts Literacy Council), a non-profit organization that provides free
English literacy instruction to adults.