With an expectation of more bankruptcy filings in the Southern District of Texas and an increased focus on environmental matters by the Biden Administration, Baker Botts has made two partner hires this month.
The firm has added David Eastlake from Greenberg Traurig to its restructuring practice in Houston and Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, a former high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official, to the firm’s litigation department in D.C.
Eastlake said he wasn’t looking to make a move before accepting an invitation for a virtual coffee meeting with Baker Botts. The Houston native said he was very familiar with the firm and had worked across Manny Grillo and others.
“Baker Botts has a lot of room for growth in its restructuring practice nationally and especially locally with the Southern District of Texas,” said Eastlake, who is the firm’s only restructuring partner based in Houston. “There are tons of opportunities to get involved in all of the work going to the Southern District.”
Eastlake started his career in New York and handled most of his matters in the Southern District of New York and Delaware, the epicenter of restructuring activity at the time. He credits Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones and Judge Marvin Isgur for transforming the Southern District of Texas into the “hottest filed venue in the country.”
“It’s a testament to our judges who made it much more accessible and user friendly,” Eastlake said. “Practitioners across the country love it. We’re going to continue to see mass filings here for years to come.”
Eastlake has been involved in the C&J Energy bankruptcy, which was filed in 2016 and concluded in 2017. He represents Conway Mackenzie, an unsecured claims representative, in the matter, which is still in the post-confirmation phase.
Another client of Eastlake’s is Envision Healthcare. He handles cases across the country for the Nashville-based company.
In addition to more bankruptcy filings by oil and gas and retail companies, Eastlake is preparing for more fallout in the hospitality, transportation, healthcare and commercial real estate sectors.
Dunn was the assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that, she was the EPA’s regional administrator for Region 1 (New England).
“Alex is a highly respected environmental lawyer in Washington, D.C. whose practice has focused on chemical regulation, agriculture, environmental justice, green infrastructure, water quality issues and other issues of critical importance to our clients,” Scott Janoe, chair of Baker Botts’ Environmental, Safety and Incident Response section, said in the firm’s announcement.
“Her addition will help us grow our practice even further as environmental-related issues take center stage under the Biden Administration.”
Before joining the EPA, Dunn was the executive director and general counsel of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), a non-profit environmental trade group that represents the interests of state environmental agency heads on matters of environmental law and policy.