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by Travis Whitsitt | April 08, 2024

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Energy attorneys advise companies through transactions involving the development, acquisition, and disposal of oil, gas, and other energy assets. In addition to normal corporate issues, energy attorneys deal with varied bodies of law, including mineral and property rights, imminent domain, environmental regulation, and sometimes even maritime law (offshore drilling or wind farms). Oil and gas production and pipelines are highly regulated industries, so energy attorneys must keep up on regulations and keep their eyes on complicated rules for every transaction. Increasingly, energy assets have become commoditized, so some lawyers in this area focus on the complicated financial transactions surrounding energy assets, including derivatives, hedges, and swaps. This practice area is heavily focused in Texas, while the more regulatory and financial-oriented areas are in Washington, DC, and New York. Energy companies have large in-house practices, and attorneys in this field can have many in-house opportunities.

The five top-ranked Energy, Oil & Gas firms based on Vault’s 2024 Energy, Oil & Gas Prestige Rankings are Vinson & Elkins; Baker Botts; LathamKirkland & Ellis; and Norton Rose. Below are a few relevant highlights about each of these firms.

Vinson & Elkins

Vinson & Elkins sits at #1 in our Energy, Oil & Gas prestige rankings, and is also the best overall law firm in Texas,  the 44th best law firm to work for overall, and #56 in the overall Vault Law 100. The firm employs over 500 attorneys out of eight U.S. and three international offices. Associates describe the culture as collaborative and positive. The firm has a fairly standard billable hour requirement of 2,000, and a three days in-two days out hybrid work policy. Partnership is possible but difficult, non-partner senior roles are both available and viable, and exit opportunities are strong.

Baker Botts L.L.P.

Landing at #2 in Vault’s 2024 Energy, Oil & Gas prestige rankings as well as #51 in the overall Vault Law 100, Baker Botts employs over 500 attorneys out of seven U.S. and five international offices. Baker Botts’ lawyers work across practice areas including corporate, global projects, IP, litigation, and tax. The firm’s clients include Fortune 100 companies, small businesses, government entities, and individuals. Its practices cross myriad industries, such as banking and finance, construction, consumer products, energy and natural resources, insurance, life sciences, real estate, and technology.

Latham & Watkins

Ranked at #3 in Vault’s 2024 Energy, Oil & Gas prestige rankings, Latham is #4 in the overall Vault Law 100, the #23 best overall law firm to work for, and the best law firm in Southern California. They employ over 3,000 attorneys out of 12 U.S. and 18 international offices. Associates describe the culture as friendly and ambitious, and the firm has a standard billable hour requirement of 1,900. Partnership is realistic with a transparent but difficult path, and exit opportunities are very strong.

Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis operates 11 U.S. and seven international offices, and employs over 3,500 attorneys. In addition to being the #4 Energy, Oil & Gas firm, Kirkland & Ellis is #7 in the overall Vault Law 100, the top firm in Bankruptcy/Restructuring, Private Equity, and Products Liability, and the top firm in both Chicago and the broader Midwest. Associates here describe the culture as upbeat and energizing, with no formal billable hour requirement but generally long working hours. Partnership here is realistic and transparent, but quite difficult. Exit opportunities are very strong.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose sits at #5 in our Energy, Oil & Gas prestige rankings, at #63 in the overall Vault Law 100, and is also the #36 overall best law firm to work for. Norton Rose employs over 3,000 attorneys out of 12 U.S. and 41 international offices. Associates describe the culture as friendly and inclusive. The firm has a fairly standard billable hour requirement of 1,900. Partnership is transparent and realistic for those willing to make the effort; that said, Norton Rose also offers viable long-term counsel roles and excellent exit opportunities.

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Obviously, there is a huge amount of overlap between the country's best Energy, Oil & Gas firms and the most prestigious firms overall, and a lot of these firms also rank amongst our Best Law Firms to Work For. If you have both the pedigree to get offers from these firms and are interested in one of the nicer places to work, any one of these five firms should be of significant interest to you.

Best of luck from all of us at Vault Law on your legal job search!

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