Ya-Wei (Jake) is an environmental lawyer who specializes in endangered species law, policy, and science. He leads the Endangered Species Conservation Department, which focuses on developing innovative and pragmatic strategies to improve how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. This work includes endangered species consultations, habitat conservation plans, recovery planning, listings and critical habitat designations, candidate species conservation, and funding. Jake and his team are highly interdisciplinary, using data analytics, remote sensing, geographic information systems, and emerging technologies and techniques. He also works closely with other conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, scientists, congressional offices, and industry to find solutions to complex or contentious endangered species issues.
Before joining Defenders in 2010, Jake practiced environmental law at Latham & Watkins, LLP. There, he worked on regulatory counseling and litigation relating to endangered species, air and water contaminants, pesticides, chemical regulation, environmental assessments, and renewable energy.
Jake holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Drexel University and a J.D. from Cornell University Law School. At Cornell, Jake also completed graduate coursework in conservation biology and herpetology.