|Sutherland Attorney Rachel Clingman quoted in Houston Chronicle article |
Energy law creates glow on local scene
|June 24, 2012 11:59 pm|
In 2010, Latham & Watkins opened an office in Houston with a handful of partners culled from some of the city's oldest and most prominent law firms.
Two years later, the local outpost of the mega-practice founded in Los Angeles, which employs more than 2,100 lawyers on three continents, ranks among the 25 biggest law firms in Houston, according to the annual Chronicle 100 survey.
Its 55 local attorneys have represented oil and gas clients in many billions of dollars' worth of mergers, acquisitions, initial public offerings and other energy-related transactions. Thomson Reuters ranked the firm No. 1 in Houston in terms of U.S. oil and gas IPOs completed in 2011.
Latham & Watkins' success here may be extreme, but its goal - to establish a Houston presence in order to become a bigger player in the lucrative international oil and gas arena - is one shared by many national law practices, which continue to eye the Bayou City hungrily.
Rachel Clingman, partner in charge of the Houston office of Sutherland, said she gets one or two calls a week from recruiters asking if she wants to make a move (which she says she doesn't).
That's a significant amount of interest, she said, particularly since she handles energy- related litigation - concerning everything from oil spills to pipeline releases to offshore hurricane damages - rather than transactions, which are more common.
The number of inquiries is up sharply from the recent past, and the calls are coming not only from Houston firms or familiar recruiters. Clingman said one recent cold call came from Chicago.
She doubts she is unique.
"I think anybody who has energy connected to their name feels like the prom queen these days," said Clingman, who left Fulbright & Jaworski for Sutherland in 2007. "We're getting a lot of phone calls."
Clingman, too, is bullish on the Houston market. She said many firms see energy as a bright spot in the still-recovering economy and are building energy practices as a hedge against downturns in other industries.
But already, she senses a bit of "recruiting fatigue." The number of lawyers practicing in the energy sector hasn't grown, she said, suggesting that bigger firms are losing personnel to smaller ones.
Plus, Clingman added, lawyers interested in jumping ship likely have already done so, putting some firms at risk of overpaying for help.
© 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
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