CWCB Director Joins Squire Patton Boggs

LAW WEEK COLORADO

Colorado’s top water official is going into private practice, Squire Patton Boggs announced Monday.

James Eklund, who served most recently as the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, joined the global firm as of counsel in its global environmental, safety and health practice and based in its Denver office.

In a press release, Eklund cited Squire Patton Boggs’ long-running expertise in the environmental and natural resources arena as an incentive to take on a new opportunity.

“I look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with my new colleagues across a number of areas and to add depth to the service we provide our clients,” Eklund said.

Eklund’s hire is the latest in a string of strategic hires in the firm’s environmental and infrastructure practices, according to Squire Patton Boggs. In September, the firm hired Lem Smith IV, who formerly worked as a director for U.S. government and regulatory affairs for Encana Oil, as a principle in its energy and environmental public policy practice based in Denver and Washington, D.C.

The firm also recently appointed environmental litigator Emily Huggins Jones as a partner in its environmental, safety and health practice in Cleveland and onboarded a global energy, infrastructure and project finance team led by Neil Upton in its London office.

“James’ intricate knowledge of key legislative and legal matters, often pertaining to water and natural resources, along with his experience as architect of Colorado’s first-ever statewide water plan, will be a strong addition to our best-in-class environmental, infrastructure and public policy teams,” said Karen Winters, partner and chair of the practice.

Eklund’s public service resume is long, previously holding positions in the executive branch as senior deputy legal counsel to Gov. John Hickenlooper and as assistant attorney general before he helmed the CWCB.

“James has done important work for the state of Colorado in leading the creation and initial implementation of Colorado’s Water Plan,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “We expect this document and the collaborative work that both led up to it and leads from it to continue guiding Coloradans as we navigate the challenge of managing finite water supplies in a steadily growing state.”

In sum, Eklund has experience in environmental, public policy, regulatory and legislative issues, and his practice focuses on environmental and natural resources issues and public infrastructure projects, particularly in relation to water.

As the state’s Colorado River representative, he has worked with representatives from other states, members of Congress and federal agencies, aiming to protect the health of the river system. He has also worked on public-private partnership financing projects and is active in the Intermountain Infrastructure Exchange.

Managing partner Peter Gould characterized Eklund as having “a deep appreciation for and investment in solving the many issues related to the conservation, development, management and use of water resources, regionally, nationally and globally.

“Clients and colleagues alike will be eager to work with him and will benefit from his notable experience and expertise,” Gould said in a press release.