(CHICAGO) Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP has significantly expanded its Environmental practice, landing seven top attorneys and preeminent workplace safety and environmental lawyer Mark Farley. The move broadens both the legal skillsets and national reach of that rapidly growing practice and adds a new office in Houston, Texas. 

Farley, a 20-year veteran and lead attorney on cases involving some of the largest industrial accidents in the United States, is highly regarded in the fields of high-risk internal probes and crisis response for environmental health and safety. He will lead Katten’s new Houston office, spearhead the firm’s new Workplace Safety practice, and join Steve Solow and Chuck Knauss—both based in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office—in driving the Environmental practice. Joining Farley in Houston will be a former Assistant US Attorney in Texas, Tom Kiehnhoff, who will bring his strong investigations and environmental practice. Further, six other lawyers focused on environmental matters will join Katten. Three of them will be based in Houston, and three new partners focused on environmental matters will join Katten’s Austin, Texas, office. 

“Mark Farley is an extraordinary lawyer whose industry-leading skills are uniquely suited to round out our already impressive capabilities in environmental law, government investigations and compliance,” said Vince Sergi, Katten’s National Managing Partner. “Farley and the other attorneys joining our team with him will deepen our reputation as a firm of choice for sophisticated, tailored counsel in these complex and evolving areas of law.” 

Farley played a leading role in the investigation of BP’s “safety culture” in the wake of its Texas City Refinery explosion in 2005. He has lectured on lessons learned from major accidents, like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, considered the largest environmental disaster in US history. In addition to focusing on major industrial accident response and litigation involving the FBI, EPA, OSHA, NTSB and Chemical Safety Board, Farley’s practice includes advising clients on environmental and safety matters. 

“Although many national law firms consider themselves to have significant expertise on either environmental or safety issues, very few firms have industry-leading reputations in both,” said Farley. “With these practice areas continuing to evolve and overlap, Katten was an obvious choice for me with its reputation as a go-to firm on high-stakes environmental regulatory matters, litigation and criminal defense.” 

Solow, former Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section Chief, said the expansion is meant to meet the growing needs of environmental clients: “The federal government has made clear its increased attention to industrial safety and that workplace and environmental safety are a priority, dedicating an enormous amount of time and resources to it.” 

Knauss, former lead counsel of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, commented, “Mark Farley is without question the finest attorney in this space today. One of our practice’s priorities has been to expand into the health and safety arena of accident investigation. We couldn’t have found a better fit to complement our regulatory and government affairs environmental work.”

Farley and three of the attorneys joining him in Houston are formerly of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Kiehnhoff formerly worked at Reaud, Morgan & Quinn LLP in Beaumont, Texas. The new Austin partners all are formerly of Baker Botts LLP.