Peter Hsiao

Peter Hsiao, who has most recently led Morrison & Foerster’s environment and energy team in Los Angeles, is ending his two-decade tenure with the Silicon Valley firm to join King & Spalding.

Hsiao joined King & Spalding on Sept. 21 as head of its West Coast environmental regulatory practice and as a partner in its government matters practice in Los Angeles.

“One of the great things about King & Spalding and the reason why I came over here is to form a national environmental practice,” said Hsiao, citing his new firm’s nationwide environmental and energy law practice that allows him to work with other environmental lawyers based in Atlanta, California, Chicago, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.

Hsiao has specialized his practice in environmental, energy, land use and natural resources law for more than 32 years. For the past two decades, he worked in Morrison & Foerster’s Los Angeles office, where he served as leader of the firm’s environment and energy group and head of its green products and chemicals team. Although King & Spalding and Morrison & Foerster are both global firms, Hsiao said he was particularly attracted to the former due to its nationwide environmental expertise.

Before moving into private practice, Hsiao worked as a senior trial lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Central District of California, where he represented the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies in some major environmental and chemical litigation.

“I think the combination of [my] expertise with that of King & Spalding will create this one-stop shop for businesses that like [the firm] are also cross-border, international businesses,” said Hsiao about his new home. “They need a law firm that can provide a high quality, high level of service wherever they need it.“

Hsiao said that King & Spalding has 31 lawyers dedicated to its environmental regulatory practice firmwide. He noted that the firm has well over 100 lawyers working on litigation related to environmental issues.

“California is one of the primary centers of environmental law in the world, with new regulatory initiatives frequently emerging there first,” said a prepared statement from partner Granta Nakayama, leader of King & Spalding’s environmental, health and safety team. “With Peter on board, clients in California and elsewhere will know they have one of the country’s leading environmental attorneys in their corner. He also brings to the table experience as a former prosecutor and an engineering degree.”

Hsiao said he has a diverse group of clients including government agencies, large chemical and oil companies and high-tech companies, as well as individuals with environmental-related matters. As California continues to be a leader in environmental law and regulation, three major areas where Hsiao expects to continue working on are: climate change issues, mobile sources and fuel efficiency standards and the debate over the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Unlike other types of law practice, environmental law cuts across so many different kinds of issues, it is clean air, clean water … it is also land use, the Endangered Species Act, development of natural resources [and] transportation, so the practice is essentially broad,” Hsiao said. “That is why it is such a great time to be an environmental lawyer in California, a state that shows leadership in all of those issues.”

King & Spalding recently hired a chief of lateral partner recruiting and integration in Ari Katz, a former chief recruiting officer at newly formed Womble Bond Dickinson and an ex-national director of legal recruiting at now-defunct Bingham McCutchen. The firm, which saw gross revenue and equity partner profits rise last year, has been on a growth surge in 2018.

Last week King & Spalding brought back former partner Russell Ryan in Washington, D.C., where he spent the past three years in senior roles at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Over the summer the firm bolstered its finance, investigations and intellectual property practices with hires from Reed Smith, Kirkland & Ellis and Paul Hastings. King & Spalding also added a seven-lawyer real estate finance team in New York from Riemer & Braunstein and welcomed back former associate Sally Yates as a partner for its special matters and government investigations practice.

King & Spalding sought to grow a new office in Chicago by landing a former corporate leader in the city from Latham & Watkins, as well as a former Sidley Austin consumer class action litigator. King & Spalding is also continuing to expand on the West Coast, hiring James Brogan, a former chair of the intellectual property practice at Cooley, as a partner in Silicon Valley. The firm hired former California congressman Daniel Lungren as senior counsel for its government matters group in April.

For its part, Morrison & Foerster is also no stranger to a raid from King & Spalding. In August, the latter hired a team of private equity lawyers in New York, most of whom came from Morrison & Foerster.

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