When Baker Botts partners elected John Martin to be its new leader this week, the 179-year-old Houston-based corporate law firm sent a message that its future growth is likely beyond the borders of Texas.
Martin, corporate transactional lawyer in the firm’s Palo Alto office, is Baker Botts’s first managing partner based outside the state.
In an interview Thursday with The Texas Lawbook, Martin said the future of Baker Botts is bright, the firm has no plans to merge with a competitor and he has no plans to move to Houston.
“I have deep roots in Texas, but I now consider myself a Californian,” he said. “I don’t plan to relocate. I will be living on airplanes visiting with our lawyers and clients, but I have no plan to move.”
Born and raised in Dallas, Martin is the first lawyer in his family. He went to college at Baylor University and law school at the University of Texas, which is where he was initially introduced to lawyers at Baker Botts.
During his 35 years at the Houston-based law firm, Martin has specialized in corporate mergers and acquisitions, especially in the technology sector. He was one of the lawyers who helped open the Dallas office and then moved to California to help lead the firm’s operations there.
Despite leading Baker Botts’s recruitment efforts, Martin says he is still the target of law firms and headhunters.
“I get called pretty frequently,” he said. “It is definitely a different, more competitive market for talent and clients, but I view the rising competition as a validation of our strength.”
Martin pointed out that 21 of the 24 lateral partners who have joined Baker Botts during the past 14 months practice in offices outside of Texas.
Regarding the possibility of merging with another firm, “We have nothing planned and nothing in the works. But we are open minded, and we will always look for ways to improve our service to our clients,” Martin said.