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James Watts
James Watts

In-House Counsel 2020: James Watts

Named managing legal counsel in 2017, Watts has balanced permitting the Line 3 Replacement Project — the longest regulatory case in recent Minnesota history — while supporting the management and guidance of Enbridge Inc.’s Minnesota-based Law Department.

Hired in 2008, Watts has worked in various legal roles across Enbridge’s business units in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Montana and parts in between. Watts said each of those assignments prepared him for the once-in-a-lifetime Line 3 replacement project by exposing him to different business issues and stakeholders.

As in-house counsel, Watts has attended dozens of town halls, public hearings and heard from witnesses expressing concerns and support of the pipeline. He’s explored the many legal issues in the case.

“I think it’s important work,” he said. “I like being able to have one foot in both the public and regulatory worlds.”

Beyond Line 3, Watts focuses on the law department’s three tenets: Caring, Learning, and Results.

“We’re focused on developing our people, and we keep it simple. We support our people’s interests, we give them learning opportunities, and we put them in positions to succeed. That’s our job as leaders.”

Outside of work, Watts co-chairs Enbridge’s annual hockey game benefiting the Northland’s Boys & Girls Club. Along with his wife, Kiki, Watts is director of the local youth soccer association. Theater, too, is a family affair, with Kiki recently named a Duluth Playhouse board member and their three daughters active in productions. “We value our community,” he said.

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