Obama energy and climate czar, Clinton EPA boss heads to Covington

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Sept 21 - Covington & Burling said Monday that it has added a longtime climate policy insider and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bolster its environmental, social and governance practice.

Carol Browner joined Covington’s Washington, D.C., office as of counsel with the 28-lawyer environmental, social and governance team, where she will advise clients on regulatory matters, environmental impact issues, corporate sustainability approaches and strategies to advance clean energy and ESG priorities.

With more and more companies working to address climate concerns, Browner said Covington offered her a place where she could continue to do the work she has been doing for "a very long time."

"What I can bring to the client is an understanding of how the government thinks, how the government makes decisions," she said.

Browner was the longest-serving administrator in the EPA's history, taking up the cabinet-level position under President Bill Clinton in 1993 and serving until 2001. In the early 1990s, she was secretary of environmental regulation in the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation.

She later served as an assistant to President Barack Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy from 2009 to 2011, coordinating climate, energy, environmental and transport policy.

Most recently Browner was a senior counselor in the sustainability practice at Dentons Global Advisors ASG, an advisory firm launched by Dentons in June with the private equity-backed acquisition of former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's consulting shop, Albright Stonebridge Group. Browner was a co-founder of the consulting firm’s predecessor, The Albright Group, which merged with Stonebridge International in 2009.

While Browner formally joined Covington this month, she had registered in January to lobby for the firm on behalf of one of its clients, South Korean company SK Innovation Co. She reported $360,000 in revenue for lobbying several U.S. agencies in connection with an International Trade Commission investigation into trade secrets allegations involving SK's electric battery business. Browner said that work ended in April.

"Carol is a leading voice on environmental and sustainability issues,” Doug Gibson, chair of Covington's management committee, said in a statement. "These issues are of tremendous and ever-increasing importance to our clients, who face growing scrutiny around their efforts to address climate change, sustainability, and other compliance issues."

Covington is the latest Big Law firm to expand its ESG offerings by adding formalized practice groups or new hires. More firms are also embracing ESG initiatives internally. For example, DLA Piper earlier this month introduced a new executive-level leadership role to spearhead its international ESG efforts.

(CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the years reported for Browner's tenure as EPA administrator and as energy and climate policy director under Obama.)

Read more:

Covington's policy team adds ex-Senate Judiciary general counsel

DLA Piper debuts new executive level sustainability role

General counsel have ESG jitters even as efforts increase

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Xiumei Dong covers legal industry news, with a focus on law firm strategy and growth, in-house counsel and the Washington, D.C., legal market. Reach her at Xiumei.Dong@thomsonreuters.com.