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Attorneys
Practice Areas
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Transactions and Risk Management
  • Industrial Accidents, Catastrophic Releases, and Emergency Response
  • Natural Resources
  • Ports and Port-Related Businesses
Contact Information
Connelly · Baker · Wotring LLP
700 JPMorgan Chase Tower
600 Travis Street
Houston, Texas
(713) 980-1700 Main
(713) 980-1717 Direct
(713) 980-1701 Fax
dbaker@connellybaker.com
77002
Education
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1984

B.S., University of Maryland, summa cum laude, 1981
Admissions
Texas
Eastern District of Texas
Southern District of Texas
District of Columbia
Debra Tsuchiyama Baker
Partner

Ms. Baker is a founding partner of the Houston litigation and environmental regulatory law firm of Connelly • Baker • Wotring LLP, where she serves as Managing Partner.  Ms. Baker has practiced environmental law for more than 30 years and obtained her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she received the Magoichi Kato Scholarship Award for Academic Excellence for Japanese American students.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Maryland. 

Ms. Baker’s practice encompasses the full spectrum of environmental issues, with an emphasis on the handling of difficult and complex multi-party environmental cases, Superfund, environmental regulatory counseling and representation in enforcement, permitting, catastrophic release response, compliance and environmental support in corporate/real estate due diligence and transactional matters.  She is an author and editor of the First and Second Editions of the Texas Environmental Law Handbook, published in January 1989 and October 1990 and is a co-author of two other books on environmental law.  Ms. Baker has also authored and published more than 50 articles on environmental law, has lectured extensively on environmental legal issues, and has testified in a variety of cases as an expert witness on environmental law in the United States and Canada. 

She is active in bar, law school and community activities promoting issues concerning the environment, minority advancement and gender equality issues, among others.  Ms. Baker was featured on the cover of Diversity & The Bar magazine, a publication of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, in connection with her work in the area of diversity.  She is the 2008 recipient of the Ma’at Justice Award, awarded annually by the State Bar of Texas Women and the Law Section to an individual who has actively addressed the needs and issues of women in the legal profession and the community.  Ms. Baker was also the 2006 award winner of the Texas Bar Foundation’s Dan Rugeley Price Award presented to an outstanding practitioner dedicated to the bar and public.  She has served as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Law at both the University of Houston Law Center and the South Texas College of Law, and was co-founder and past Chair of the Houston Bar Association's Environmental Law Section.  She was also a founder and Chair of the American Bar Association’s national Environmental Law Group, supervising 10 environmental committees integrating issues of environmental law with real estate, landlord and tenant issues, due diligence, and merger and acquisition transactions.  Ms. Baker was the 2008 Chair of the Houston Bar Foundation, the HBA’s 501(c)(3) charitable foundation, and other bar appointments have included serving on the Board of Directors of the Asian American Bar Association, as Vice Chair of the State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Women in the Profession, and Co-Chair of the Houston Bar Association’s Gender Fairness Committee, among others.  Prior to forming the Connelly • Baker Firm, Ms. Baker headed the Environmental Law Practice group for the 120-lawyer firm of Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, L.L.P. for over a decade and also practiced environmental law in the D.C. and Houston offices of Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P.  She is admitted to practice in both the District of Columbia and Texas.

Selected Environmental Litigation Highlights

  • U.S. v. Albert Investment Co., 583 F.3d 1386 (10th Cir. 2009).  Environmental team won significant 10th Circuit appeal, successfully challenging the Government's long-standing position that a non-settling CERCLA PRP does not have a legally sufficient interest to intervene as a right to oppose a Consent Decree that would cut off the PRP's contribution rights.  The 10th Circuit issued an opinion in favor of Connelly · Baker's client finding that it had a legally sufficient interest to intervene as a matter of right under CERCLA, reversing the district court's denial of their motion to intervene.
  • Port of Houston Authority v. GB Biosciences Corporation, et al.
  • Residents Opposing Pigs and Livestock v. Texas A&M University, et al.  Civil Rights environmental justice action brought against Texas A&M University by residents alleging disproportionate environmental impacts associated with the siting of The George Bush Presidential Library at the former site of the University’s pig and livestock facility.  Issues centered around environmental land use and siting, noise pollution, odor pollution and air pollution.  Case resulted in summary judgment for the University, with the Judge dismissing claims asserted under Title VI, Title VIII, the Clean Water Act, and the Fifth Amendment, among others.
  • Cummings v. Texaco, et al.  Representation of target defendants in one of the first Superfund/property damage cases litigated in Texas in a 5-week trial, taking close to 100 depositions and witness statements of truck drivers, experts and other witnesses over several years of discovery and trial preparation.  The 6-0, zero-damage defense verdict was rendered by the jury in less than 3 hours and defendants were allowed to recover their costs.
  • United States of America and The State of Texas v. Browning Ferris Industries Chemical Services, Inc.  Defended natural resources damages case, ultimately negotiating one of the first natural resources “cash-out” settlements in the State of Texas achieved with State and federal trustees.
  • U.S. v. Alexander, 771 F.Supp. 830 (S.D. Tex. 1991); vacated by U.S. v. Alexander, 981 F.2d 250 (5th Cir. 1993) (on sanctions portion only).  Representation of premium defendant and achieved dismissal of §113 contribution claims against client in one of the first federal cases in Texas to address the scope of contribution protection under CERCLA.
  • Coastal Casting Service, Inc. et al. v. Lena Aron, et al.  Obtained one of the first favorable lender liability decisions on behalf of lending institution that had foreclosed upon a Superfund site.

Selected Examples of Expert Witness Experience

  • Lowe v. Monsanto Company, In the 152nd District Court, (Judge Harvey Brown, presiding.)  Retained as legal expert on environmental law and presented two days of expert testimony for the defense on Superfund liability issues regarding the Brio Superfund Site and related environmental matters.  After expert testimony, jury rendered verdict for the defense within 20 minutes.
  • In re Royal Bank of Canada, Queens Bench, Calgary.  Provided expert witness testimony in Canadian trial on behalf of the Royal Bank of Canada.  Testified as an expert on U.S. environmental laws and effect of environmental lender liability laws in connection with foreclosure issues associated with contaminated property in Texas.  Judge ruled favorably on all environmental issues in case.
  • Southwest Business Properties v. Telxon.  Retained as plaintiff’s legal expert on cleanup standards and interpretation of environmental laws in case associated with tenant’s alleged contamination of landlord’s commercial property.  Rendered expert opinions and provided legal support on environmental issues. 
  • Avitts v. Amoco, United States District Court, Galveston Division, (Judge Samuel Kent, presiding.)   Retained as defense legal expert for trial and rendered expert opinions on environmental fees and standards issues in connection with alleged subsurface contamination of oil field case under Oil Pollution Act.  
  • GSL Investments, Inc. v. Grief, Inc., In the 23rd Judicial District Court, Brazoria County.  Retained as an expert on environmental law and rendered expert opinions regarding standards associated with environmental due diligence in real estate transactions and contribution claims under the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. 
  • City of Austin v. Reichhold Inc., et al., Case No. A-06-CA-015 SS; In the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division.  Retained as defense expert on environmental law, environmental issues associated with real estate transactions and regulatory interpretation of Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act. 

Selected Regulatory Environmental Highlights

  • EPA Headquarters/OMB Preauthorization of a CERCLA §111(a) Claim.  Negotiated one of only five "mixed-funding" settlements achieved in the country at the time as Counsel to Superfund Task Force composed primarily of major oil companies in an action brought by the United States Government in connection with a Superfund site. 
  • Environmental Contribution, Cost-Recovery and CERCLA representation.  Continuous representation for 20-plus years in numerous large-scale, multi-party toxic tort and mass contamination matters, including contribution, cost-recovery, allocation and third-party property damage and personal injury matters arising from Superfund sites in cases brought by hundreds and thousands of plaintiffs.  Negotiated numerous complex consent decrees, administrative orders and settlements, many of which contained innovative components or strategies unique at the time, including issues associated with mixed funding, de minimis and de micromis settlements, innocent landowner issues, environmental justice  issues, NCP consistency, ROD amendments and ESDs, among other components.
  • Transportation-Related Environmental Representation.  Representation of critical intermodal transportation-related industries (seaports, airports, and railroads) addressing litigation and environmental issues particular to transportation.  Representation of ports and port-related businesses, including complex contaminated sediment cases and litigation associated with dredging and commercial economic impacts associated with port-related businesses.  Representation of several airports, providing environmental regulatory support for airline-related matters associated with jet-fuel spills, air quality issues associated with co-located facilities (car rental facilities, airport-sited support), and co-located stormwater and other types of wastewater and air permitting, among other environmental issues.  Representation of railroad in connection with railroad-related matters, including hazardous materials transport, creosote impacts, release reporting and derailments.  Provide regulatory support for spill control and countermeasure plans for ports, yards and terminals, mobile fueling and wastewater treatment issues, off-loading and quarantine matters, as well as negotiating easements, tariffs and indemnity agreements with operators, licensees and tenants.
  • Natural Resource Damages.  Representation in matters concerning large-scale impacts to natural resources and quantification and valuation of damages and resolution of issues in litigation and via innovative settlements and procedural agreements.  Negotiated precedential settlements with trustees, including innovative interpretations of state NRD grants of authority and delegation of regulatory authority.  Led teams of experts to identify and quantify impacts via caged-fish bioaccumulation studies, bioassay testing (benthic community and fish tissue), bird and wildlife receptor studies, avian toxicological screens, effects range impact evaluation, fate and transport modeling (including colloidal transport of pesticides), uptake and egg-shell thinning impacts, modeling of chemical degradation and attenuation and chemical-dating procedures and forensic evidentiary reconstruction of historical plant processes to fingerprint persistent chemicals to various sources, among other representations.  Provide representation in connection with contaminated sediment issues, a unique resource associated with specific sets of damages and quantification methods, in coordination with NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other governmental and trustee agencies.
  • Environmental Transactional Support and Risk Management.  Decades of representation in transaction structuring, negotiation and documentation concerning environmental liabilities and contaminated properties, representing a wide range of parties involved in the commercial real estate business, including shopping center owners, real estate investors, property management companies, industrial and residential developers, brokers, landlords and tenants in connection with risk-related environmental matters associated with purchase and sale,  financing, deed recordation, land use, institutional controls, insurance and evaluation of long-term real property exit strategy options.   Application of environmental risk management tools to transactions involving contaminated properties and environmental risk transfer and management, including Brownfield redevelopment in connection with the sale of the largest of industrial facilities and mergers and acquisitions, utilizing innovative corporate and transactional vehicles to reduce potential liabilities for contaminated properties.  Structured environmental risk programs to facilitate divestitures of hundreds of dry cleaning plants, multitudes of impacted gas station sites, the sale and winding-down of a series of historical iron foundries in the northeast, and the decommissioning of oil and gas producing properties, among many other transactions.
  • Large-scale historical site-wide/facility-wide complex cleanups/work-outs.  Decades of leading teams of experts, consultants and insurers to address cleanup and liability resolution with regulatory agencies in connection with large, complex site-wide environmental cleanups.  Retained to work with environmental consultants and contractors to ensure cost-effective and complete environmental cleanup to specific standards negotiated with regulators, including assisting clients with the bid process for identifying environmental consultants and contractors, negotiating consulting agreements, addressing privilege issues and ensuring the placement of sufficient liability insurance to address cleanup and remediation issues.  Representations have included critical negotiations regarding pivotal cleanup standards and other performance-based specifications for cleanup, as well as evaluation of compliance with scope of work and schedule.  Defense of clients in connection with cleanup-related lawsuits and claims, including construction allegations of defective construction and design specifications for complex remediation projects, force majeure, change order disputes, stand-by day charges and changing site conditions that have posed obstacles in meeting EPA schedules and/or increased the potential for contaminant migration.  Address potential liabilities associated with hazardous waste shipping, hazmat regulatory requirements and manifesting procedures associated with third-party transport. 
  • Industrial Accidents, Catastrophic Releases and Emergency Response.  Representation in connection with facility explosions, releases and catastrophic accidents at petrochemical facilities, chemical plants, refineries, pipeline ruptures, oil fields and derailment scenes, including regulatory issues associated with large-scale releases.  Provide comprehensive approach to coordinating the investigation, claims, third-party litigation and environmental regulatory response to major accidents by handling cause and origin investigations, regulatory interaction, hazardous materials response, release reporting and defense of claims arising out of industrial accidents.
  • Oil and Gas-Related Environmental Support.  Representation in connection with extensive remediation and decommissioning of NORM contamination issues involving major oil companies, independent oil companies and other users of oil and gas industry pipe and tubulars.  Assist in negotiations with regulatory agencies in connection with radiation monitoring and resolution of various lawsuits for personal injury and property damage arising out of presence of NORM contamination.  Negotiation of stock purchase and asset agreements in connection with multiple oil and gas leases, wells and units, addressing environmental issues associated with assets such as pipelines, gathering and processing systems, compressors and equipment, easements, rights-of-way, surface leases, surface fee interests, licenses and permits.

Books

  • Corporate Counsel's Guide to Environmental Problems in Corporate Transactions, Author of Chapter 7 of hardback treatise published by Business Laws, Inc., ©1993
  • Environmental Handbook, Co-Author of book published by the Greater Houston Partnership in 1993.
  • Texas Environmental Law Handbook, Editor and Co-Author of treatise on Texas environmental law, published by Government Institutes, Inc., April 1989; Second Edition published in October 1990.

Law Review and Law Journal Articles

  • Getting Busy: Corporate Issues in the Early Stages of Criminal Environmental Investigations, The Journal of Corporation Law, Volume 22, No. 3, Spring 1997 (reprinted in The Environmental Counselor, Business Laws, Inc.)
  • Lender Emptor - Lender Liability Relief Under RCRA?, Texas Environmental law Journal, Spring 1996, Vol. 26, No. 4.
  • Bankruptcy -- The Last Environmental Loophole? South Texas Law Review, October 1993, Vol. 34, No. 3. (Also cited in 2007 University of Michigan Working Paper Series on "Limited Liability Polluters in Chapter 11.")
  • What Price Innocence? A Realistic View of the Innocent Landowner Defense Under CERCLA, Volume 22, St. Mary's Law Journal, Number 1, 1990.
  • How to Avoid Environmental Liability in Business Transactions, 43 Southwestern Law Journal, February 1990, Special Edition on Environmental Law.

Other Publications

  • Unique Times for Boutiques, Houston Lawyer, March/April 2010.
  • Real Property -- Real Problem or Real Promise?, Houston Lawyer, November/ December 2008.
  • Municipal Setting Designation, Dry Cleaner Remediation Program, Underground Storage Tanks, published in Brownfields Tool Kit, 20th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 6, 2008.
  • State Bar of Texas Report on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys in Large and Medium Size Law Firms and Corporations - Co-Author of report commissioned by the State Bar of Texas which compiled information about current practices and contained proposals and recommendations to the State Bar to implement programs to address issues facing minority and women attorneys.  The report is available on-line at www.texasbar.com, under the menu item, Other Bar Groups/Minority and Women Lawyers.  Released January 2007.
  • Environmental Law Update - Advising Mid-Sized Corporations, University of Houston Law Center CLE, September 22-23, 2005.
  • Natural Resource Damages Claims Under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act, Mealey's Environmental Litigation Conference, Houston, Texas, April 18-19, 2005.
  • Environmental Considerations In Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Foundation Advanced Real Estate Short Course, Houston, Texas, November 11-12, 2004.
  • Successful Strategies for Minority and Women Rainmakers, 2004 ABA Annual Meeting, Section of Litigation, Atlanta, Georgia, August 5-8, 2004.
  • Attorney/Consultant Relationship, 11th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 1999.
  • Sensitive Issues in Environmental Litigation, Civil Litigation Program, Law Education Institute, Inc., January 1996.
  • Surprise EPA Inspections, 5th Annual Environmental Corporate Counsel Institute, Dallas, Texas, November 1994.
  • Site Inspections, Environmental Law & Environmental Science For Lawyers, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, June 23-24, 1994.
  • The EPA Lender Liability Rule - Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, Probate & Property Magazine, May/June 1994.
  • Trustee Liability - Alive Under CERCLA!, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, November-December 1993, Volume 31, Number 3.
  • Environmental Regulation in Texas, Institute of Business Law, California State University, Los Angeles, December 8, 1993.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center Advanced Real Estate Short Course, November 11-12, 1993.
  • Benchmarking -- Redefining and Measuring the Relationship Between In-House and Outside Counsel, accepted for publication in Texas Bar Journal.
  • Environmental Consultants - Hiring, Firing and Other Problems, American Bar Association Annual Meeting, August 9, 1993.
  • How to Select an Environmental Consultant, Texas Environmental Superconference, August 6, 1993.
  • Successfully Managing the Overlap With Other Regulations, Operating Under RCRA and CERCLA Requirements, Executive Enterprises, June 2, 1993.
  • Environmental Law Update, ABA Probate and Property Magazine, March/April 1993.
  • Taking Control of the Litigation, Cost-Effective and Creative Litigation Strategies for the Environmental Case, ABA Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee, Tucson, Arizona, April 1-3, 1993.
  • Environmental Real Estate Considerations, Houston Business Journal, March 8, 1993.
  • Resolution of Liability Through Settlements, Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Litigation and Settlement Briefing, CLE International, Houston, Texas, February 18-19, 1993.
  • The EPA Lender Liability Rule - Does It Work? Real Estate Law: Mortgages - In Depth, SMU School of Law, January 28-29, 1993.
  • Managing Environmental Consultants, South Texas College of Law Environmental Law Symposium - 1993, January 21-22, 1993.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Advanced Real Estate Short Course, November 19-20, 1992.
  • Environmental Indemnification Clauses: Negotiation and Litigation Developments Affecting What Works and What Doesn't, American Bar Association Third Annual Conference on Environmental Aspects of Corporate and Real Estate Transactions, Chicago, Illinois, June 10-11, 1992.
  • Environmental Hazards Liabilities, Advanced Conference on Commercial Real Estate Leases, Houston, Texas, May 14, 1992.
  • The Innocent Landowner Defense, The Advocate, Texas State Bar Litigation Section Report, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 1992.
  • Unique Applications of the Environmental Laws: How YOU Could Be Liable, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, January-February 1992.
  • NORM - What's In A Name?, Texas Environmental News, August 1991.
  • Environmental Issues in Real Estate, Major Issues in Asbestos and Environmental Legislation, Litigation, Economics and Health, McClelland Management Newsletter, July 1991.
  • Avoiding Environmental Liabilities in Corporate Transactions, Texas Environmental News, June 1991.
  • Environmental Hazards Liabilities, Advanced Conference on Commercial Real Estate Leases, Houston, Texas, June 6-7, 1991.
  • Superfund Issues: Parent Corporation Liability, Successor Corporation Liability, and More, Fulbright & Jaworski Environmental Law Seminar, April 30, 1991.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations In Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Advanced Real Estate Short Course, November 29-30, 1990.
  • Emerging Litigation Trends--1990 and Beyond, 14th Annual Page Keeton Products Liability and Personal Injury Law Conference, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, November 1-2, 1990.
  • Toxic Tort Litigation Legal Issues, Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 2-3, 1990.
  • Overview of the Environmental Aspects of Real Estate and Corporate Transactions, American Bar Association Joint Conference on Environmental Aspects of Real Estate and Corporate Transactions, Chicago, Illinois, June 6-7, 1990.
  • U.S. Environmental Law: An Overview, University of Calgary, Environmental Law: An Intensive Short Course for Practitioners Seminar, Calgary, Alberta, June 4-9, 1990.
  • Site Inspections: Minimizing Liability From Acquisitions, University of Houston Law Center Environmental Law and Environmental Science For Lawyers Program, Houston, Texas, May 31-June 1, 1990.
  • U.S. Environmental Update - New Hope for Innocent Landowners?, London Solicitors' Company Newsletter, April 1990.
  • Environmental Liability: Contractual Protection for Buyers, Sellers, Landlords, Tenants, Lenders, and Borrowers, University of Houston Law Center program "Real Estate Documents, Workouts and Closings," Houston, May 10-11, 1990, and San Antonio, May 17-18, 1990.
  • Environmental Laws Affecting Texas Real Estate Transactions, Professional Education Systems, Inc., Avoiding Liability in Texas Real Estate Transactions Seminar, Houston, April 5, and Dallas, April 6, 1990.
  • Toxic Torts -- The Dual Defense of Governmental and Private Party Actions, South Texas College of Law, Environmental Law Institute, January 18-19, 1990.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate, 4th Annual Real Estate Law Institute, South Texas College of Law, July 1988.
  • CERCLA and Real Estate Transactions: A Game of Chance, The Houston Lawyer Magazine, March-April 1988.
  • Conducting the Due Diligence Inquiry, Practising Law Institute, The Impact of Environmental Regulations on Business Transactions: Real Property Transfers and Mergers and Acquisitions, January 22-23, 1990.
  • Controlling Evidence At Trials of Mass Toxic Tort Cases, ABA National Institute, Trying Mass Toxic Tort Cases: Demonstrations of Trial Techniques by Leading Practitioners and Jurists, November and December 1989.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center Advanced Real Estate Short Course, October 1989.
  • Environmental Law Litigation: The Asbestos Model, 5th Annual Advanced Real Estate Law Institute, South Texas College of Law, July 1989.
  • Law As A Business, Panelist for State Bar of Texas Women in the Law Annual Conference, February 19, 2010.
  • Environmental Drafting Issues In Merger & Acquisition Transactions, Houston Bar Association Merger and Acquisition Section, January 27, 2010.
  • Ethical Considerations of an Internal Investigation, Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section, December 9, 2009.
  • Environmental Ethics, 21st Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 5-7, 2009.
  • Sustainability -- Moving from Theory to Practical Application, a symposium on sustainability sponsored by the University of Houston Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal, February 6, 2009.
  • Municipal Setting Designation, Dry Cleaner Remediation Program, Underground Storage Tanks, 20th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 6, 2008.
  • Early College Awareness Project, for mentorship of academically promising underrepresented minority high school students, Baylor College of Medicine, May 10, 2008.
  • The Mentoring and Retention of Minorities and Women in the Law, Texas Women Lawyers CLE, Austin, Texas, February 22, 2008.
  • Advertising, Marketing and Cross-Referring Ethically, State Bar of Texas Minority Attorney Program, Houston, Texas, April 28, 2006.
  • Balancing Work and Family - The Myth of the Supermom, Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Program, Houston, Texas, April 20, 2006.
  • Nuts and Bolts of Forming Alliances, State Bar of Texas Minority Counsel Program, Investing in Diversity, Houston, Texas, October 13-14, 2005.
  • Environmental Law Update - Advising Mid-Sized Corporations, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, September 22-23, 2005.
  • Natural Resources Damage Litigation, Mealey's Environmental Litigation Conference, Houston, Texas, April 18-19, 2005.
  • Environmental Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Foundation Advanced Real Estate Short Course, November 11-12, 2004.
  • Successful Strategies for Minority and Woman Rainmakers, American Bar Association Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, August 6, 2004.
  • Proactively Limiting Environmental and Financial Liability on Port-Owned Aquatic Lands in conjunction with the American Association of Port Authorities Harbors, Navigation and Environment Seminar, New Orleans, Louisiana, May 11, 2004.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements, Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Conference, Houston, Texas, March 3, 2004.
  • Environmental Management Programs at the Port of Houston Authority, Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section Program, Houston, Texas, February 8, 2002.
  • Attorney/Consultant Relationship, 11th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 5-6, 1999.
  • The 7th National Conference for Women Litigators, Business Development Associates, Dallas, Texas, February 25-26, 1999.
  • Legal Issues Related to Voluntary Cleanup Program/Risk Reduction Rules, Ninth Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, July 31-August 1, 1997.
  • Being a Witness in Toxic Chemical Lawsuits, IBC USA Conferences, Inc., Risk Assessment Conference, Houston, Texas, October 30-31 & November 1, 1996.
  • Sensitive Issues in Environmental Litigation, Law Education Institute, Inc. Civil Litigation Program, Vail, Colorado, January 2-6, 1996.
  • Law Department Management Issues - Perspective of Outside Counsel, 17th Annual Corporate Counsel Institute, University of Texas School of Law, April 27-28, 1995.
  • EPA Surprise Inspections, 5th and 6th Annual Environmental Corporate Counsel Institutes, Dallas, Texas, November 1994, and May 1-2, 1995 in Washington, D.C.
  • Consultant Liability, Texas Association of Environmental Professionals, September 1994.
  • Managing Environmental Risks in Real Estate, Environmental Regulation in Texas, California State University, Institute of Business Law, December 8, 1993.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center Advanced Real Estate Short Course, November 11-12, 1993.
  • Environmental Consultants - Hiring, Firing and Other Problems, American Bar Association Annual Meeting program, August 9, 1993, New York City.
  • How to Select An Environmental Consultant, Texas Environmental Superconference, Austin, Texas, August 5-6, 1993.
  • Clean Air Act -- The Law, American Society of Safety Engineers Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, June 23, 1993.
  • Operating Under RCRA and CERCLA Requirements, Executive Enterprises Conference, Houston, Texas, June 18, 1993.
  • Trustee Liability, Fourth Annual American Bar Association Joint Conference on Environmental Aspects of Corporate and Real Estate Transactions, New Orleans, Louisiana, June 10-11, 1993.
  • Environmental Deal Killers? - Help for Lenders and Owners in Negotiating Rollovers and Can Creditors Now Be Protected from Unplanned Environmental Liability, American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Program, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, April 29-30, 1993.
  • Clean Air Regulation, University of Houston, Environmental Law and Environmental Science for Lawyers, San Francisco, California, April 15-16, 1993.
  • Taking Control of the Litigation, ABA Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Toxic and Hazardous Substances and Environmental Law Committee, Cost-Effective and Creative Litigation Strategies for the Environmental Case, Tucson, Arizona, April 1-3, 1993.
  • Resolution of Liability Through Settlements, CLE International program, Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Litigation and Settlement Issues, Houston, Texas, February 18-19, 1993.
  • The EPA Lender Liability Rule - Does It Work?, SMU School of Law, Real Estate Law: Mortgages - In Depth, Dallas, Texas, January 28, 1993; Houston, Texas, January 29, 1993.
  • Managing Environmental Consultants, South Texas College of Law, Environmental Law Symposium - 1993, Houston, Texas, January 21-22, 1993.
  • Texas Environmental Agencies and State Programs, Government Institutes, Inc., Fundamentals of Texas Environmental Law Compliance, Houston, Texas, December 3-4, 1992.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center, Houston, Texas, November 19-20, 1992.
  • Environmental Consultants - Hiring & Firing, American Bar Association Real Property, Probate and Trust Section "Hot Tips" Program, Williamsburg, Virginia, October 17, 1992.
  • Moderator, 4th Annual Texas Environmental Superconference, Texas State Bar Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section, Austin, Texas, August 6-7, 1992.
  • Environmental Indemnification Clauses: Negotiation and Litigation Developments Affecting What Works and What Doesn't, American Bar Association, Third Annual Joint Conference on Environmental Aspects of Corporate and Real Estate Transactions, Section of Real Property, Probate and Trust Law, Chicago, June 9-10, 1992.
  • Environmental Hazards Liabilities, Advanced Conference on Commercial Real Estate Leases, Houston, Texas, May 14-15, 1992.
  • Clean Air Act, University of Houston program, Environmental Law and Science for Lawyers, San Francisco, California, April 23-24, 1992.
  • Environmental Hazards Liabilities, CLE International program, Advanced Conference on Commercial Real Estate Leases, Houston, Texas, June 6-7, 1991.
  • Superfund Issues: Parent Corporation Liability, Successor Corporation Liability, and More, Fulbright & Jaworski Environmental Law Seminar, Houston, Texas, April 30, 1991.
  • Recycling Contaminated Property: Investment Opportunities for "Bottom Fishing," American Bar Association satellite telecast, Washington, D.C., April 11, 1991.
  • Current Impact of Environmental Regulations Upon Real Estate, Association for Commercial Real Estate, February 18, 1991.
  • Toxic Torts in Texas: Trends of the 1990's, Fundamentals of Texas Environmental Law Compliance Program, December 3-4, 1990.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations In Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center Advanced Real Estate Short Course, Houston, Texas, November 29-30, 1990.
  • Overview of Regulations--Future Trends, McClelland Management Services Program, Houston, Texas, November 13, 1990.
  • Emerging Litigation Trends/1990 and Beyond, 14th Annual Page Keeton Products Liability and Personal Injury Law Conference, University of Texas, August, Texas, November 1-2, 1990.
  • Managing the Impact of Environmental Laws on Real Estate and Corporate Transactions, American Corporate Counsel Association, August 22, 1990.
  • Legal Issues--Toxic Tort Litigation, 1990 Texas Environmental Superconference, Texas State Bar, Natural Resources and Environmental Law Section, Austin, Texas, August 2, 1990.
  • Overview of U.S. Environmental Laws, University of Calgary, Environmental Law Intensive Short Course for Practitioners, Calgary, Alberta, June 4-9, 1990.
  • Overview of Environmental Aspects of Real Estate and Corporate Transactions, American Bar Association Joint Conference, Environmental Aspects of Real Estate & Corporate Transactions, Chicago, Illinois, June 6-7, 1990.
  • Environmental Law and Environmental Science of Lawyers--Site Inspections, Minimizing Liability from Acquisitions, University of Houston Law Center CLE Program, Houston, Texas, May 31 - June 1, 1990.
  • Real Estate Documents, Workouts and Closings--Contractual Protection for Buyers, Sellers, Landlords, Tenants, Lenders and Borrowers, University of Houston Law Center CLE Program, Houston, Texas, May 10-11, 1990, San Antonio, Texas, May 17-18, 1990.
  • Avoiding Environmental Liability in Texas Real Estate Transactions, Professional Education Systems, Inc., Houston, Texas, April 5, 1990, Dallas, Texas, April 6, 1990.
  • The Impact of Environmental Regulations on Business Transactions, Practicing Law Institute, Houston, Texas, January 22-23, 1990.
  • The Texas Superfund Statute, Government Institutes Program, Texas Environmental Laws & Regulations, December 5-6, 1989.
  • Trying Mass Toxic Tort Cases, ABA Program, Washington, D.C. November 9-10, 1989, and San Francisco, California, December 14-15, 1989.
  • Hazardous Waste Considerations in Real Estate Transactions, University of Houston Law Center CLE Advanced Real Estate Short Course, October 26, 1989.
  • Innocent Landowner Provision, Association of Engineers in the Geosciences Semi-annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada, October 22-25, 1989.
  • Hazardous Waste Issues, U.S. Small Business Administration, Houston, Texas, October 16, 1989.
  • Environmental Law Litigation: The Asbestos Model, South Texas College of Law, 5th Annual Real Estate Law Institute, July 1989.
  • Regulations As They Apply to Real Estate, American Society of Civil Engineers, Houston Branch Geotechnical Committee and Society of Industrial and Office Realtors, May 10, 1989.
  • Property Transfer and How it Relates to Hazardous Wastes, Texas Hazardous Waste Management Society Symposium, January 1989.
  • Preparing and Presenting the Defendant's Case, ABA Section of Tort and Insurance Practice "Pollution Liability" Program, Washington, D.C., November 10-11, 1988.
  • Ma'at Justice Award. Recipient of 2008 Ma'at Justice Award presented at the State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting.  The award is given annually by the Women and the Law Section of the State Bar to an individual who has actively addressed the needs and issues of women in the legal profession and the community. 
  • Dan Rugeley Price Memorial Award. Recipient of 2006 Texas Bar Foundation award presented to an outstanding practitioner dedicated to the Bar and the public. A $1,000 cash payment accompanying the award was donated to the University of Houston’s new journal, The Environmental and Energy Law & Policy Journal. Connelly · Baker also contributed additional underwriting to become the first founding law firm member of the University of Houston's Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Center, established in 2007 to provide a center and policy forum for addressing global issues associated with natural resources and the environment.
  • Chambers USA Client Guide.  Selected as one of Texas' leading individuals in Environmental Law, Chambers has described the Connelly · Baker firm as a boutique of "top notch lawyers who have made quite an impact on the market" with "polished litigators," in particular highlighting Ms. Baker's "exemplary track record" in Superfund recovery cases. The 2010 Chambers Guide reports that clients describe Debra Baker as "one of the most capable environmental lawyers in the country."
  • President’s Award, Houston Bar Association, 2001 outstanding Committee Chair.
  • Recipient of the Magiochi Kato Academic Scholarship for Japanese-American Law Students.  Scholarship is awarded by the Japanese-American Citizens League to Japanese-American law students for academic excellence.
  • Chair, Houston Bar Foundation, 2008.
  • Board of Directors, Houston Bar Foundation, 2006-2008 Term.
  • State Bar of Texas Task Force on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys, 2006-2007 Term.
  • Board of Directors, Asian American Bar Association, 2006-2007 Term.
  • State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Women in the Profession, 2005-2008 Term.
  • State Bar of Texas Minority Counsel Program, Steering Committee, 2005-2007.
  • Chair, 1993-94, Environmental Law Group, American Bar Association, Real Property, Probate/Trust Section.
  • Chair, 1993-94, Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section.
  • Chair, 1992-93, American Bar Association Environmental Law Committee; American Bar Association Section on Real Property, Probate and Trust Law.
  • Vice-Chair, 1990-91, and Co-founder, Houston Bar Association Environmental Law Section.
  • Vice-Chair, 1990-91, American Bar Association Environmental Law Committee; American Bar Association Section on Real Property, Probate and Trust Law.
  • 2008 Cover Story, Diversity & The Bar magazine. Featured on magazine cover and in accompanying story Lawyers Shine in MCCA's Broadway-Style Revue in Minority Corporation Counsel Association publication highlighting progress of diversity in law firms.  January/February 2008 edition.
  • 2008 Matching Expectations with Gender Relations, Texas Bar Journal, Focus on Diversity Column, January 2008.  Authored article for State Bar Journal addressing the issue of expectations of new lawyers as those come into play with the issue of retention of female attorneys.
  • 2006-2007 Program Leader Implementing First Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Task Force Standing Committee.  As the first Co-Chair of this new Standing Committee on Gender Fairness, devised and implemented gender fairness task force surveys sent to over 50 law firms and corporate law departments to evaluate progress with HBA’s Gender Fairness Commitment initiative.  Implemented program with law firm managing partners and corporate General Counsel to identify best practices, most current “hot topics” regarding gender fairness issues, and to educate membership regarding progressive and innovative in-house and law firm programs.
  • 2007 Special Presentation - Teamed with MCCA   (Minority Corporate Counsel Association) to Perform Broadway-Style show in New York and San Francisco to highlight legal gender and diversity issues in the bar.  Performed 20-minute Broadway-style theatrical show in multiple cities, in an innovative use of theatre, song and dance to highlight progress of gender and minority diversity issues in law firms to an audience of over 1,500 outside law firms and corporate counsel.  October and November 2007. 
  • 2007 Co-Author of State Bar of Texas Report on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys in Large and Medium Size Law Firms and Corporations.  Co-author of report commissioned by the State Bar of Texas which compiled information about current practices and contained proposals and recommendations to the State Bar to implement programs to address issues facing minority and women attorneys.  The report is available on-line at www.texasbar.com, under the menu item, Other Bar Groups/Minority and Women Lawyers.  Released January 2007.
  • 2007 Special Presentation for Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) to highlight MCCA’s decade of advocacy in support of diversity in the legal profession.  Featured dinner program performer highlighting ten years of diversity achievements.  Dallas, Texas, February 2007.
  • 2006-2007 Board of Directors – Asian American Bar Association.  The AABA Board coordinates continuing legal education, charitable opportunities and programs to address the needs of Houston’s Asian American Community.
  • 2007 Gender Fairness -- Four Years Later.  Author of Houston Lawyer Magazine report of survey results from 50 of Houston’s largest law firms and corporate law departments, addressing the state of affairs on gender fairness and the role of bar associations in gender fairness issues.   March/April 2007.
  • 2007 Presentation on “The Collective Power of Women” focusing on mentoring  opportunities for minority businesswomen as part of the Downtown Women’s Group luncheon series on diversity issues and advancement for professionals.  March 23, 2007.
  • 2006 State Bar of Texas Appointment to President’s Task Force on Hiring, Retention and Promotion of Minority and Women Attorneys.  Appointment by State Bar of Texas President Eduardo Rodriguez to Special Task Force commissioned to analyze issues pertaining to legal advancement of minority and women attorneys in the State of Texas.  Assisted in devising methodology for researching and quantifying progress of minority and women attorneys in the Texas legal community.
  • 2006 and 2005 Minority Counsel Program Steering Committee Member.  The Steering Committee members of this State Bar of Texas program procure the participation of corporations and government agencies to provide interviewing opportunities for minority and women lawyers in an annual two-day CLE and networking program in an effort to bolster the amount and significance of legal work obtained by minority and women lawyers.  The Steering Committee also designs and participates in the CLE portion of the program which seeks to provide tools and techniques for enhancing the employment and economic opportunities for minority and women attorneys throughout the State of Texas.
  • 2006 “Balancing Work and Family – The Myth of the Supermom.”  Presentation at Brown-Bag luncheon series of the Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Program, focusing upon work/life balance in law firm and corporate law department environments.
  • 2006-2007, Vice Chair, State Bar of Texas Standing Committee on Women in the Profession.  Assistance to the State Bar in assessing the status of women in the legal profession, identifying and developing educational programs of benefit to women and making recommendations to the State Bar Board of Directors to address issues particular to women lawyers.
  • 2006 “Advertising, Marketing and Cross-Referring Ethically.  Presentation to State Bar of Texas Minority Attorney Program focusing upon ethics issues in connection with advertising, marketing and case referrals, with a particular emphasis upon law firm business development activities.  Houston, Texas, April 28, 2006.
  • 2005 “Nuts and Bolts of Forming Alliances.”  Presentation to minority attorneys at the State Bar of Texas Minority Counsel Program entitled Investing in Diversity, focusing upon methods in which the formation of partnering concepts and strategic alliances for women and minority lawyers can facilitate rain-making opportunities and law firm advancement.  Houston, Texas, October 2005.
  • 2004 “Successful Strategies for Minority and Women Rainmakers,” Featured Speaker at American Bar Association Annual Meeting, identifying techniques for marketing and business development for minority and women attorneys. Atlanta, Georgia, August 6, 2004.
  • 2004 “Flexible Work Arrangements,” Presentation to Houston Bar Association Gender Fairness Conference highlighting evolving trends and opportunities for non-traditional and/or flexible work arrangements and related issues.  Houston, Texas, March 3, 2004.
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