February 28, 2017

Member Spotlight: Warren Belmar

Warren Belmar

Warren Belmar's career encompassed years in government service and private practice. He was a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski and also served as Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Tell us a little bit about your career.

Upon graduation from Columbia Law School I was fortunate to secure a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then a position with the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. After these wonderful government service experiences, I decided to stay in Washington, DC, rather than return to New York as planned. I spent almost all of the following years in private practice, primarily as a partner with the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm. Contemporaneously with private practice, I actively participated in the activities of the ABA, the Federalist Society, the American Law Institute, and various charitable organizations. And, before retiring for the second time, I had the privilege and honor of returning to public service to serve for three years as the Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Is this what you planned when you started law school?

When I started law school I thought I would like to be a litigator in a large New York law firm. My first exposure to the practice of law was as a summer associate with a Wall Street firm, where I was exposed to a wide variety of legal practice areas, including regulatory issues handled by the firm’s Washington, DC, office. That experience led me to jump at the chance to clerk on the DC Circuit and thereafter to pursue a career addressing regulatory matters before federal agencies and in subsequent judicial review proceedings.

What has been the highlight of your career?

While the challenges of working on complex financial and energy regulatory matters as a partner in a major international law firm ranks high on the list, the highlight of my career is the friendships I have formed while working with many of the most outstanding attorneys, law professors, and members of the judiciary on matters affecting clients, our profession and the public.

If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, would you have done anything differently?

No. I am thankful for the legal career I have enjoyed for the past 50 years, and especially for the good fortune of meeting my wife on a blind date during a six-month stay in New York working day and night on behalf of plaintiffs in a multi-districted antitrust case.

What advice would you give a person considering attending law school today?

I would encourage that person to do so, as a legal career can be rewarding intellectually, financially, and most importantly as a way to contribute to society. However, given the financial commitment required to attend law school today, I would urge potential law students to be sure that they have a passion for the career they are choosing.

What were the biggest changes you saw in the legal profession over the course of your career?

I think the biggest changes have been (1) the ever-increasing diversity within the profession, (2) the emergence of huge multi-state and international law firms, where most partners do not know each other, let alone the firm’s associates, (3) radio and television advertising for clients, and (4) legal magazines and newspapers ranking law firms by profitability, size, and partner and associate compensation.

When did you first become a member of the ABA and why did you decide to join?

I became a member of the ABA in 1973, when a former government colleague asked me to join and become a member of a temporary committee he chaired within the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. That turn of events allowed me to develop a practice in that area, upon which I built my legal career.

What has been the highlight of your work with the ABA?

The highlight was the opportunity to serve on the Council of the Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, and to subsequently be chosen to serve as its Chairman. During my tenure, I initiated the practice of hosting a dinner honoring the current and former heads of those offices within the federal government most involved with administrative law and regulatory practice matters. Our first event honored those who served as Assistant Attorneys General at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, from the Eisenhower Administration up to the Clinton Administration. Attorney General Janet Reno and many members of the judiciary and the Section looked on as Justice Stephen Breyer introduced Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, two of the former OLC heads in attendance, who spoke of their fond memories working with the outstanding career lawyers on their staffs.

If you had not become a lawyer, what do you think you would have done?

That is a very difficult question, as I never considered a different career while in high school and college. Most probably, I would have pursued a career as a teacher of history and political science, at the high school or college level, which would have led to a totally different path over the past half century.

Warren Belmar

Warren Belmar's career encompassed years in government service and private practice and he was a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski. He also served as Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy.