Latham & Watkins has hired five top energy and environment officials from the Obama Administration to bolster its energy and resource practice.
Jim Arnone, global chair of Latham’s land & resources department in Los Angeles, told Big Law Business Wednesday that the timing was right to bolster a significant area of the firm’s services that is seeing increasing demand.
“You’ve got a great opportunity whenever there is an administration change” as high level government lawyers are seeking to enter private practice, Arnone said.
Demand for policy services also increase due to policy changes and uncertainties, he said.
Joining Latham in its Washington, D.C., offices are the following former government officials:
- Steve Croley, former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Energy. He previously served in the Office of White House Counsel from 2011 to 2014, as Senior Counsel to the President and then as Deputy White House Counsel, and on the White House Domestic Policy Council. He is also a former tenured law professor at the University of Michigan who specialized in administrative law and civil procedure.
- Joel Beauvais, former deputy assistant administrator with EPA’s Office of Water. He previously worked for Latham, and has held other EPA and congressional staff positions.
- Janice Schneider, former assistant secretary for land and minerals management with the Department of Interior. Schneider will rejoin the firm, having left in 2014.
- Tommy Beaudreau, former chief of staff for the Department of Interior. Before working for the government, he was a lawyer with Fried Frank in Washington, D.C.
- Nicole “Nikki” Buffa, former deputy chief of staff for the Department of Interior. She previously worked as an associate for Latham and also served as a deputy director of cabinet affairs at the White House from 2011 to 2013, working on the policy priorities at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and Transportation
Arnone said Latham currently has more than 140 lawyers practicing in the energy and resource area in its domestic offices and around 200 globally.
“Demand in this space is huge and growing bigger,” Arnone told Big Law Business, adding that the change in administration is likely to increase the workload.
Arnone suggested that under the new administration, there could be increased resource exploration and development activity on federal land.
He also predicted there could be “more devolution of authority in areas such as climate change,” with state and local governments taking more of a lead in this area. Having many different jurisdictions taking a variety of approaches “adds complexity and complexity adds demand for services like ours,” Arnone said.
He said all five of the former government attorneys should begin work at the firm by March 1.
Latham has about 2,200 lawyers in office throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East practicing in a variety of policy areas.