Dark Waters: Where is Tom Terp Now?

Image Credit: Mary Cybulski/Focus Features

Directed by Todd Haynes, ‘Dark Waters‘ explores the events that took place pertaining to the chemical pollution case that was opened against DuPont. The role played by various legal experts in the case has been explored extensively in the movie, including the actions of Thomas “Tom” Terp. Though he did not play a leading role in the case, his actions and morale did prove to be highly supportive, though not without complications.

Tom Terp is a Remowed Lawyer

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Tom Terp actually studied at Maine West High School as well as Andover High School, having been part of the 1965 class for the latter. For his graduation, he studied at Albion College from 1965 to 1969. Apart from graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, he also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Albion Pleiad, the institute’s newspaper. His study of law started in 1970 when he became a student at The College of William and Mary. From 1972 to 1973, he served as the Editor-in-Chief for William and Mary Law Review before graduating in the latter year with a Juris Doctor (JD) degree.

Tom Terp in ‘Dark Waters’

With his law degree in hand, Tom joined Taft Stettinius and Hollister in 1973 as a Partner. From 2006 to 2016, he also held the positions of Chairman and Managing Partner. In his career, he has primarily focused on commercial litigation and is an expert in environmental matters. The lawyer’s work has always been impressive, and he has taken on clients from across the United States and helped them navigate their issues in order to find their perfect solutions. When it comes to environmental matters, he has helped with issues pertaining to real estate and financial transactions. Additionally, he has helped his clients work alongside different parties when it comes to merging or acquiring another company.

Thanks to his expertise in legal matters when it comes to environmental issues, Tom has often been given positions of honor by various organizations. He was part of the Board of Editors of Environmental Hazards and worked alongside the Environmental Law Journal of Ohio in the same capacity. Tom also became a Board Director for the Attorneys Liability Assurance Society (ALAS) in 1995 and was a Chairman of the same body from 2008 to 2010.

Over the years, Tom has actually been given various honors for his skills and actions. He was declared one of the Best Lawyers in America for Environmental Law in 1989, and he still holds the distinction. Additionally, he was one of the Ohio Super Lawyers from 2004 to 2018. Some of his additional achievements include being part of lists like America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, the International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers, and Euromoney Publications’ World’s Leading Environmental Lawyers.

Tom’s depiction in ‘Dark Waters’ showcases him as a man who supported Robert Billot’s campaign. However, he did seem to be struggling to balance his mortality and his responsibilities as one of the company’s leaders. As it turns out, Robert had actually requested to be a part of Tom’s team when he joined Taft, given their expertise in environmental law. Terp has publically admitted that the Dupont case had ruffled many feathers, especially since DuPont was represented by Taft.

“It was not a terribly difficult decision for us. I’m a firm believer that our work on the plaintiff’s side makes us better defense lawyers,” Tom told The New York Times Magazine. Even when the case had been presented to Tom in 1996, Tom had been quite fond of Robert, considering him a “real standout lawyer: incredibly bright, energetic, tenacious and very, very thorough.’’ Though the DuPont case certainly was not easy for Tom either, he has openly thrown his support behind those seeking compensation from the company.

Tom Terp is Still a Partner at Taft

Tom Terp’s association with Taft Stettinius and Hollister is still going on today. He is still a Partner of the firm and serves as an invaluable counsel, especially when it comes to environmental issues. His continued respect in the legal circles, especially in this field of expertise, has made Tom an asset for Taft. Now based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the lawyer has also gained fame thanks to his involvement in the DuPont case.

In the 2019 movie, ‘Dark Waters,’ Tom is portrayed by Tim Robbins and is shown to have a good professional relationship with Robert Billot (played by Mark Ruffalo). However, this connection did suffer strain during the long wait while the samples against DuPont were being examined for the possibility of medical monitoring. For the most part, Tom prefers to lead a private life away and is quite focused on his work.

Presently, Tom is a member of the Board of Trustees of Beech Acres and Beech Acres Foundation, and he is also a trustee for the CISE Foundation. Thanks to his skills, he has worked in the 3rd, 6th, and 10th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. He has also represented federal cases in Ohio’s Southern District and US Supreme Court.

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