As we look to the future, it is important to revisit the past.
Baker Botts traces its history to the earliest days of the Republic of Texas. Peter Gray founded the firm in 1840 with its beginnings in the railroads that were starting to crisscross the young nation. In 1874, Mr. Gray left the firm called Gray, Botts & Baker for the Supreme Court of Texas. After his departure, his two partners, Colonel W.B. Botts and Judge James A. Baker, changed the firm name to Baker & Botts. Over the years, the name changed slightly, becoming Baker Botts L.L.P. in 2000.
There are several events that catapulted the firm to national prominence:
- The Galveston hurricane of 1900 destroyed what was then the largest city and port in Texas. Commerce moved inland to Houston, which replaced Galveston as the state’s largest city.
- Oil was discovered in 1901 near Houston, creating dozens of companies that relied on Baker Botts as their legal counsel.
- William Marsh Rice, an American businessman and founder of Rice University, was found dead in his Madison Avenue apartment. A will left his entire estate to a New York lawyer to administer as a secret trust. Captain James Baker (the second of five lineal descendants of founder, Judge James A. Baker) went to New York and determined that Mr. Rice did not die of natural causes but was murdered, that the will was a forgery, and that his butler did it! Captain Baker served as the first chairman of the board of trustees of Rice University, founded with Mr. Rice’s saved fortune. A Baker Botts partner has been on that board virtually ever since.
A succession of Baker Botts lawyers have carried on the impressive accomplishments of firm founders and assisted in the development of the City of Houston, advised presidents during times of war and founded the Texas Law Review. We hired our first female lawyers in the 1920s and embraced the expanding role of lawyers in business resulting from new government regulations generated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation.
Today, Baker Botts has approximately 725 lawyers in 14 cities around the globe from which we serve our clients with the highest ethical and professional standards, dedication to their business needs and the most collegial association among its lawyers and staff.
Baker Botts’ vision of the future was eloquently expressed by Judge Hiram M. Garwood, a partner in the early 20th century, who said of the firm:
“I have always thought of it, not as a mere temporary association of individuals, however pleasant or however profitable, but as a permanent institution, just as Harvard or the Bank of England is an institution, with a strength, a life and individuality made up from, yet greater than, all or any of its members, in that the accumulated knowledge and achievements of its members, past and present, become the common capital of all to preserve, increase and transmit to those who shall come after us.”
Listed below are the dates of our office openings:
1940-Our Mexico City office was opened in the 1940s. The office was reorganized as a separate Mexican law firm, now Santamarina y Steta, in the 1970s.
1972-The Washington office opened to advise clients on federal regulatory issues. Partners have included an SEC chairman, SEC commissioner, SEC general counsel, General Counsel and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and former Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State James A. Baker, III, who served in senior government positions under three U.S. presidents.
1978-The Austin office formalized the firm’s work with the Texas State Legislature with the opening of an office in 1982. Multiple former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justices have joined the firm after retiring from the bench.
1985-The Dallas office opened to serve an increasingly important center of finance, technological innovation and transportation.
1992-The New York office opened in the financial center of the United States to better serve clients in this area. The office also supported a developing telecommunications and technology practice.
1993-Baker Botts opened a Moscow office to meet growing client demands for legal services within Russia.
1998-The London office opened to enhance the firm’s service to energy and corporate clients doing business in the United Kingdom.
2001-Baker Botts opened our first office in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2001. In Riyadh, we are proud to work in association with the Law Office of Mohanned bin Saud Al-Rasheed.
2005-Our Middle East presence expanded with the opening of an office in Dubai. This office addressed client needs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and continued to strengthen the firm’s international energy resources.
2005-The firm opened its first office in Asia with an office in Hong Kong to focus on the energy industry, as well as providing corporate and private equity clients with cross-border mergers and acquisitions capabilities throughout Asia, with an emphasis on China.
2007-The firm opened an office in Beijing and cemented our China practice in the region with an office in the People’s Republic of China.
2008-Baker Botts opened its first office on the West Coast, in Palo Alto, to better serve the firm’s existing technology clients in California and to provide support for our clients in the Pacific Rim.
2012-The Brussels office opened to serve our clients facing competition and antitrust issues in the European Union.
2013-The Rio de Janeiro office opened in response to clients navigating the expanding energy markets in Latin and South America.