|Headquarters||One Shell Plaza
Downtown Houston, Texas, United States
|No. of offices||14|
|No. of attorneys||725|
|Major practice areas||Antitrust and Competition, Bankruptcy and Restructuring, Corporate, Environmental, Private Clients, Projects, Intellectual Property, Litigation, Tax|
|Company type||Limited Liability Partnership|
Baker Botts L.L.P. is a major United States-based international law firm of around 725 lawyers, with a long, prominent history and significant political connections, claiming more than half of the Fortune 100 companies among its clients. Headquartered in One Shell Plaza in Downtown Houston, Texas, the firm has a major list of energy related clients. It is said to be the second-oldest law firm west of the Mississippi, with Rose Law Firm of Little Rock, Arkansas (founded November 1, 1820) laying claim to the title of oldest.
The firm traces its history to 1840 in the Republic of Texas, with the beginning of legal practice by founding partner Peter W. Gray. Gray represented the Allen Brothers, founders of the city of Houston. Confederate Colonel Walter Browne Botts (from Fredericksburg, Virginia) joined the firm in 1865, and it became Gray and Botts. In 1872, James Addison Baker (a.k.a. Judge Baker; 1821–1897; from Huntsville, Texas) joined the firm and the name was changed to Gray, Botts & Baker. Gray left the partnership in 1874, to join the Supreme Court of Texas, and the two remaining partners, Walter Browne Botts and James A. Baker, renamed the firm Baker & Botts. Peter Gray also died in 1874. Judge Baker's son, also James Addison Baker (a.k.a. Captain Baker and James A. Baker, Sr.; 1857–1941) joined the firm as a clerk in 1877, a lawyer in 1881, and became partner in 1887, at which time the name became Baker, Botts and Baker.
In 1896, Captain Baker, personal attorney for Texas millionaire William Marsh Rice (Rice had become a client of Peter Gray in the 1850s), drew up a new will for Rice and was the will's executor. In 1900, Rice was poisoned in his bed by his valet, Charles F. Jones, and his New York City lawyer, Albert T. Patrick—a sensational crime that made national headlines. Captain Baker was a key witness and helped investigate the murder after Patrick produced a will that gave him control of five million dollars in 1904. Baker got the will he drew up entered as evidence in the case, and it was subsequently proved that Patrick had forged Rice's signature on the will he submitted. The case was not settled until 1910, and by that time the estate had grown to almost 10 million dollars. When the intent of Rice's will was finally executed, it led to the establishment of the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Art, and Science, which is now called Rice University. Captain Baker was the first chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees. Rice University has maintained ties to Baker Botts since that time.
Captain Baker's son, James Addison Baker, Jr. (1892–1973), also joined the firm in 1919 and his classmate and friend Henry Malcolm Lovett (son of the first president of Rice University, Edgar Odell Lovett) joined in 1924. Walter H. Walne served as managing partner from 1926 to 1933.
James Addison Baker, III, former Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan's first administration and United States Secretary of State (a.k.a. James Baker), joined the firm as a senior partner in 1993, after leaving public service. He maintained two offices in Washington, being also affiliated as a partner at the Carlyle Group (with the title of senior counsel).
In 2000, the firm renamed itself Baker Botts.
Dutch quality newspaper NRC investigated Baker Botts representation of Rosneft, in a Dutch court case dealing with the Russian state's appropriation of Yukos. The two oil giants were embroiled in a bitter feud between Putin and an opponent of his, Chodorkovsy, the controlling shareholder of Yukos. Chodorkovsky was subsequently jailed, and Rosneft picked up the pieces of Yukos' bankruptcy. Journalist Joep Dohmen of NRC wrote that Baker Botts helped its client Rosneft forge Armenian court rulings, to shore up Rosneft's claims in Dutch courts. Nrc, that is in possession of the actual court papers, found that Baker Botts partner Ryan Bull, and his Moscow associate Izabella Sarkisyan were co-authors of the verdict in Case 1494, which they handed to Armenian judge Dremeyan on a USB-stick. The text included the Armenian coat of arms. The NRC article has been translated into English. The article also stated that Yukos settled, out of court, after the Dutch court admitted the proofs of these actions.
Notable partners and employees
- Claude Allen, associate employee 1991-1995
- James A. Baker, Sr., joined 1881, partner 1887, grandfather of James Addison Baker, III
- James Baker, senior partner, as of 1993
- Richard C. Breeden, former employee, activist hedge fund manager and former SEC Chairman[who?]
- George W. Bush, former mail room employee
- Jean Dalby Clift, former employee, 1952-1957
- Wallace Clift, former employee, 1953-1957
- Ted Cruz, former employee, 1995 
- Peter W. Gray, founder, partner, 1840–1874
- Joe R. Greenhill, former employee, of counsel, Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court 1972-1982
- Robert Jordan, partner
- Robert Keeton, former employee
- Thomas R. Phillips, current partner, retired Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court 1988-2004
- Mike Schofield, Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives and former policy advisor to Governor Rick Perry
- Baker Botts corporate website Retrieved on August 26, 2010.
- "Baker Botts hires corporate partner." Austin Business Journal. Wednesday January 21, 2004. Retrieved on August 25, 2010.
- "Houston, Texas." Baker Botts. Retrieved on August 25, 2010. "One Shell Plaza 910 Louisiana Street | Houston | Texas..."
- Williams, Marjorie. "Jim Baker is smooth, shrewd, tough and coolly ambitious. That's why Washington loves him", The Washington Post, January 29, 1989.
- The Life of William Marsh Rice
- Vise, David A.. "Former Secretary of State Baker Joins Carlyle Group", The Washington Post, March 11, 1993.
- History - Baker Botts
- Rosneft manipuleerde de rechtsgang in Nederland, NRC, 24 November 2016
- White House press release
- Bryce, Robert. - "It's a Baker Botts World". - The Nation. - September 23, 2004.
- "Vetting Ted Cruz's Presidential Resumé". Houstonia Magazine. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
- "Retired Supreme Court Justice Joe Greenhill dies in Austin". Austin-American Statesman. February 11, 2011.
- "Mike Schofield for State Representative". mikeschofield.com. Retrieved December 10, 2014.