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Baker Botts’ New Chief To Lead Firm’s Push Far Beyond Texas

Feb. 14, 2019, 8:45 PM

Baker Botts’ new managing partner John W. Martin, the first non-Texas-based lawyer to head the 179-year-old firm, plans to help continue its expansion far beyond its origins in Houston.

Martin handles matters including technology transactions and M&A at the firm’s Palo Alto, Calif. office, which he started in 2008. Three years ago, Baker Botts also opened an office in San Francisco.

On April 1, Martin succeeds Andrew M. Baker, who has served two terms as managing partner of the 725-lawyer firm.

“I expect to be on the road a lot visiting clients and our offices. Being visible makes a difference,” said Martin, who in addition to his corporate practice, has been member of the firm’s executive committee and the partner in charge of recruiting.

“And I am going to build on what Andy started,” he told Bloomberg Law. “We plan to grow in the Northern California market, on the East Coast, both in New York and Washington, D.C., and in London and strengthen our presence in the Houston market.”

The Houston legal scene has been lively, with a flurry of lateral hires in recent months. Big Law players like Shearman & Sterling have opened offices in Houston and are looking to stock their ranks to meet demand from clients in the revived oil and gas sectors.

While Baker Botts is known for its energy expertise, Baker, who is stepping down after 40 years at the firm, said that “technology is as big and important to us as energy is.”

Martin, who was elected to a four-year term, said Baker Botts is the fastest growing law firm in the San Francisco area.

He plans to build out its intellectual property, litigation, corporate and environmental law practices. Baker Botts has also hired lawyers specializing in renewable energy.

In New York, the firm has focused not only on corporate work but also on IP work, including patent prosecution.

And Baker Botts has bolstered its antitrust practice, particularly in its Washington office. In December, the firm hired Maureen Ohlhausen, who had been the acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission, as partner and co-chair of the firm’s antitrust practice. That addition came not long after Baker Botts hired two lawyers from Squire Patton Boggs for its antitrust team.

“We now have more than 45 lawyers in this area,” Martin said.

The firm also has been actively hiring in London. Last month, it added two finance partners from other firms to bolster its corporate finance expertise.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson in Washington at egolson1@gmail.com

To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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