Photo of Justin Cias

Justin advocates for clients in complex commercial litigation matters.

Justin’s interest in law was ignited during his undergraduate years through an internship with a criminal defense attorney. After he was invited to witness a client’s trial, Justin was hooked: watching the case play out in court fascinated him, and he loved seeing the impact of the not guilty verdict on the client. He knew immediately that this was the meaningful career he’d been searching for.

As an economics student, Justin had an interest in business alongside law, so he set his sights on commercial litigation as a way to combine both passions. In addition to the solid foundation it gave him in business matters, Justin’s economics background also made him a highly strategic thinker, which he now uses in litigation in strategizing for the best possible outcome for the client.

Justin represents clients in a variety of commercial matters and has a special interest in environmental and water law. He previously clerked at an environmentally-focused law firm, where he developed an understanding of the complex interplay between federal regulations, state laws and state agencies. Justin also served as a summer associate at Husch Blackwell prior to joining the firm and had the opportunity to analyze the impact of environmental and water law statutes for clients.

With a reputation for working as hard as possible to achieve the best client outcome, Justin wants clients to feel confident in his advocacy. His goal is to ensure that no client has to wonder at the end of a case what might have happened if he’d worked harder.

On January 5, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (the “Fifth Circuit”) vacated a decision from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division (the “Bankruptcy Court”) in Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. v. Just Energy Texas, L.P. (In re Just Energy Group, Inc.).[1] The Fifth Circuit ruled that the Bankruptcy Court should have abstained from the case involving the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”)’s management of price rates of electricity and should have transferred the case to the state district court. The case was remanded with instructions to determine the appropriate trajectory of the case after abstention.

On February 8, 2023, the State of Minnesota enacted House File 7 (“H.F. 7”) to modify electric utility standards and revises the state’s goals for generating carbon-free electricity by 2040. As discussed below, H.F. 7 significantly modifies the legal frameworks that direct and incentivize future Minnesota electric sector developments and has implications for regional energy policy.

On January 27, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its intent to invest up to $47 million in funding for clean hydrogen research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) as part of its “Hydrogen Shot” – a program intended to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per kilogram in the coming decade by reducing costs and improving the performance of hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen Shot is also part of the Biden administration’s strategy to decarbonize the electric grid entirely by 2035 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

On January 18, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of the Army published a new final rule to re-define “waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the Federal Clean Water Act (“CWA”). Although the rule is set to take effect March 20, 2023, the looming U.S. Supreme Court decision in Michael Sackett, et ux v. EPA, et al., Docket No. 21-454(2022) could establish additional legal precedent as to what constitutes WOTUS and could enable further legal challenges to the rule. If the rule goes into effect, it would broaden the types of water bodies subject to CWA regulation, while providing some clarity with regard to some newly excluded water features.