Baker Botts expanded its environmental heft by hiring Jeffrey Wood, the longtime acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s environment and natural resources division.
Wood is set to join Baker Botts on April 1 as a partner in Washington, D.C. He left the DOJ late last year after serving in his acting role for more than 21 months. Wood said he has been told that is the longest-ever tenure for an acting assistant AG in the 110-year history of the environment and natural resources division.
“With almost two years as the Department of Justice’s top environmental lawyer, Jeff has a strong national reputation and a unique capability to assist clients with responding to and resolving federal environmental matters,” Scott Janoe, a Houston partner who chairs Baker Botts’ environmental practice, said in a press release.
Andrew Baker, managing partner of Baker Botts, said in the release that the firm’s clients will benefit from Wood’s 16 years of government, corporate and law firm experience.
Wood said he considered a number of firms after leaving government but was attracted to Baker Botts’ team of environmental lawyers, including Janoe in Houston and partners Megan Berge and Scott Keller in Washington, D.C. Keller, chair of the firm’s Supreme Court and constitutional law practice, is a former Texas solicitor general who joined Baker Botts last fall.
“They had the right kind of platform with a talented group of lawyers who are also good people,” Wood said about Baker Botts.
Wood joined the Justice Department on Inauguration Day 2017, coming from Balch & Bingham‘s Washington, D.C. office, where he had been a partner in the environmental practice for three-and-a-half years.
Prior to that, beginning in 2011, Wood worked for then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, who later became U.S. Attorney General. Wood was Republican staff counsel on two subcommittees when Sessions was a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
After Donald Trump won the Republican nomination for president, Wood said he served on a volunteer basis with the campaign as an energy and environmental policy adviser.
Wood said his work for the DOJ in 2017 and 2018 was a unique opportunity for an environmental lawyer. He said half of the work in that role is enforcing environmental laws and most of the other half is defending the federal government in environmental and natural resources litigation. The division represents the EPA and the Interior, Energy and Defense Departments, as well as other federal agencies in litigation.
Wood said heading the division was like working in a massive environmental law firm since the division has more than 600 lawyers and staff.
On Nov. 1, Jeffrey Bossert Clark, a former Kirkland & Ellis partner in Washington, D.C., became the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s environment and natural resources division.
Baker Botts has added nine lateral hire partners to its Washington, D.C., office over the last 12 months in areas including antitrust, appellate, intellectual property and environmental law.