Sidley Austin has added Raymond Atkins, former general counsel of the Surface Transportation Board, as a partner in the firm's Washington office and a member of its transportation practice.
Atkins has 10 years of experience at the board, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, including the last three as general counsel. He left the agency on Oct. 31.
As general counsel, Atkins defended the agency in appeals and counseled board members on transportation regulations, antitrust, federal preemption and administrative law. The agency has jurisdiction over railroad rate and service issues and rail mergers and other transactions. The agency also oversees some trucking and moving van companies, ocean shipping and intercity passenger bus companies, and pipelines not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Atkins will work with Sidley's transportation group—he said the practice "has no equal in the United States"—to get to know clients who include Norfolk Southern Corporation, Canadian Pacific Railway and the Association of American Railroads. The regulation of passenger rail and rail transportation of certain materials will be big regulatory issues in the future, Atkins said.
Working at Sidley, he said, also offered a deep appellate group and a broad regulatory practice where he could utilize his government experience. "What I was looking for was someplace I could broaden my personal experiences," Atkins said.
Atkins previously served as chief of staff for the surface transportation board's chairman, and represented the agency before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit as an associate general counsel and appellate lawyer. He also has a doctorate in economics and paired that with legal advice to guide the agency through complex rulemaking, adjudication, licensing, and ratemaking proceedings, the firm said.
The firm's leadership—including G. Paul Moates, the chair of the firm's transportation practice, and Mark Hopson, the managing partner of Sidley's D.C. office—lauded Atkins' knowledge of the competitive and regulatory issues clients face.
"His knowledge of economic and regulatory issues and appellate experience will make him a tremendous asset to our clients not only in transportation but in all regulated industries," Hopson said in a written statement.