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The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Kate Barrington McGregor, Associate - Business & Regulatory Section

Kate Barrington McGregor advises and represents business clients on securities matters, corporate finance and general corporate transactions. With a primary focus on capital markets, she represents issuers and underwriters in public and private offerings of equity securities, high-yield debt securities and investment-grade debt securities. In addition, Kate advises clients on SEC reporting and disclosure obligations, and other corporate governance and compliance matters. She also assists public and private clients with mergers, acquisitions and commercial transactions. Kate is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails. 

My practice focuses on capital markets and public and private mergers, acquisitions and commercial transactions. The Bracewell team has significant transactional and project development experience. We also advise our clients in ongoing SEC reporting and disclosure obligations, as well as other corporate governance and compliance matters.

What types of clients do you represent?

Bracewell has an excellent platform for all aspects of the energy industry. We are fortunate to practice alongside many leaders in practices that include regulatory, finance and restructuring, environmental law, antitrust, tax and regulatory enforcement. As a result, we bring to bear highly experienced and best-in-class practitioners to provide the full range of legal services for our energy industry clients.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work on major energy projects and transactions, such as being part of the deal team that represented Parsley Energy, Inc. in an acquisition of approximately $2.8 billion worth of undeveloped acreage and producing oil and gas properties in the core of the Midland Basin. In addition, I was part of the team that represented Kinder Morgan, Inc. in an approximately $1.7 billion joint venture with Targa Resources Corp. and DCP Midstream, LP in connection with the Gulf Coast Express Pipeline Project designed to transport up to 1.92 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. 

I also work on a number of transactions through which companies raise money by selling their debt securities in the public market, including a $6 billion offering of senior notes for Kinder Morgan, Inc., $2.5 billion offering of senior notes for ConocoPhilips Co. and a $2 billion offering of senior notes for Sysco Corporation. 

How did you decide to practice in your area?

Prior to law school I was a paralegal at a large firm in New York where I supported a capital markets practice group. I really enjoyed the capital markets practice, so when I was a summer associate at Bracewell I was immediately drawn to the corporate and securities group. I discovered that this practice group includes not only the capital markets transactions I enjoyed but a broader scope of transactions. That broader practice appealed to me and continues to make my practice interesting. 

What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?

Here at Bracewell we start each week with a firm-wide meeting, including all 10 offices (spanning time zones from Dubai to Seattle!), where attorneys report on recent matters and provide updates on their practices. Our managing partner also provides updates on the firm’s performance and various firm initiatives. These weekly meetings connect the offices and practice groups and keep us informed of what our colleagues are doing. 

It is very hard to define what a “typical” day looks like—it is always changing. In general, we have a handful of ongoing projects and what we are doing will depend on what stage that transaction is in—we might be drafting agreements, turning drafts with counterparties or researching and analyzing legal and compliance issues that arise in the course of the project. On top of that, we always expect and receive calls from clients on issues that pop up on a day-to-day basis, whether it be about SEC reporting obligations or other compliance requirements, deals they are considering or other issues.

What is the best thing about your practice area?

The best thing about the corporate and securities practice area is the high-quality deal flow, which allows us to work on a wide variety of deals. As an associate, I have the opportunity to work with different corporate and securities partners, each of whom has a unique practice (some focus on capital markets, others on M&A, etc.) that allows me to gain experience in each of these areas.

The other associates in the practice group are also one of the best things about the corporate and securities team at Bracewell. We have a fantastic group of associates who are incredibly smart and hardworking, but also a lot of fun to be around. I receive a lot of support, both from my peers and associates who are more senior and more junior me. We genuinely treat all of our work as a team project. That makes the challenges a lot easier to get through together.

What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?

The most challenging aspect of being a transactional attorney is project management when you have multiple active deals. This poses different challenges at each level. As a more junior associate, it can be difficult to have limited visibility on each of your deals and know what to expect from each, which makes time management even more important. As you move toward a more mid-level position, new challenges present themselves as you need to learn to delegate and manage younger associates.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I would definitely recommend taking any law school clinic, short course or other topical class or seminar that is offered and that is targeted for corporate or transactional law. For example, while I was at Virginia for law school, there were short courses (taught by practicing attorneys) on oil and gas and the Dodd-Frank regulation of the capital markets. I would also recommend securities regulation and corporations courses.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?

One misconception about a transactional practice is that deal lawyers don’t do public speaking. While it’s true that we don’t do the type of public speaking that our litigation colleagues do, public speaking is still a crucial skill for us. We are often tasked with leading large conference calls or presenting to clients and potential clients. It is definitely a skill that you need going into transactional practice and will continue to hone. 

What is unique about your practice area at your firm, and how has it evolved since you have been at the firm?

As a young associate, I think the most unique thing about Bracewell is the extraordinary amount of client contact and responsibility that associates are given from the moment they start. On my second day at the firm, I was added to a project team that was representing Kinder Morgan in its MLP roll-up (a $76 billion transaction value), which meant immediate facetime with our client. It can be daunting to take on responsibility when you first start, but it’s also exciting and I’ve always felt supported by the rest of my team. In addition, building personal relationships with the client changes the dynamic. On the occasions when you need to burn the midnight oil, it’s a lot easier when you know the person on the other end of the late-night emails or phone calls. 

What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them? 

I most enjoy spending time with my husband and our golden retriever. While part of my job is being available and willing to go above and beyond to provide excellent client service, I try my best to handle what I can on nights and weekends from home whenever possible so I can maximize family time. The firm has a pretty seamless technology platform that helps us stay plugged into what is going on even when we’re away from the office. My husband and I also love to travel—our travel in 2017 included a trip to Bogota, Colombia, for a Bracewell colleague’s wedding—and I recently trained for and completed the New York City marathon (as well as several Netflix marathons).