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Overview

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, eminent 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.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Energy, Oil, & Gas from real lawyers in the practice area.
Sara Douki, Associate • Domingo Rios Rivera, Associate—PENRI
Allen & Overy LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

We are part of Allen & Overy’s (A&O) Projects, Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure (PENRI) group. We work on the full spectrum of transactions related to the financing, acquisition, and development of infrastructure and energy assets, both in established and emerging markets around the world. Our work covers a variety of sectors, such as transport, power, renewables, oil and gas, mining, social infrastructure, and telecoms. We also focus on financing new technologies, such as grid-scale batteries, electric vehicles, and data centers, which are transforming the energy and infrastructure landscape. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Our clients include a mix of private equity funds, such as Carlyle, who invest in and acquire energy and infrastructure assets; project sponsors and developers, such as the Clearway Energy Group, who develop, construct, and operate greenfield and brownfield projects; federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, which support innovative energy technology; development finance institutions, such as the International Finance Corporation and the Inter-American Development Bank, who finance social, economic and environmental development in emerging markets; and tax equity investors, such as Advantage Capital, who provide investments for renewable energy projects in exchange for tax benefits. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The nature of our group and our role as project finance associates means we get to work on quite a wide range of projects and deal structures. PENRI advises on anything related to the investment and funding of the infrastructure and energy sectors, including traditional project finance, mergers and acquisitions, public-private partnerships, agency finance, and tax equity transactions. We have been able to work on—and learn from—all these transaction types, which are key areas of the global renewable energy transition. No two deals are the same, and the legal landscape is constantly evolving, which keeps the work interesting and keeps us in learning mode!

How did you choose this practice area?

Sara: My parents grew up in war-torn countries with no infrastructure, so I have always been drawn towards international development. When I learned about project finance, I immediately knew it would be a good fit. I became a lawyer to help people, and fell in love with project finance when I learned it meant I could have a hand in developing projects that make a positive impact on the environment, economy, and society. 

Domingo: I naturally ended up in PENRI because of a mixture of professional and personal interests. In undergrad, I majored in economics, concentrating my studies in environmental economics (which measures the externalities of economic development as they relate to our environment). I was also born and raised in Puerto Rico, where energy and other infrastructure assets are in a poor state resulting from a systematic lack of investment. When I learned in law school that there was a practice where I could focus on both, there was no other answer!

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

A typical day involves responding to client queries, drafting agreements or revising documents based on feedback from clients or partners, managing closings, and leading checklist and due diligence calls. We are both also heavily involved in law school recruitment and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, so our days can also include preparing for events such as workshops, networking sessions, and panels to attract and retain diverse talent.

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

Sara: Corporate Finance has been the most useful class I’ve ever taken for project finance. Besides that, being curious and eager to learn about the field, the members of your deal team, and various types of financings and clients in the field has been the single most useful skill as a junior associate.

Domingo: I always recommend taking legal transactional courses (Negotiations, Contract Drafting, etc.) and some business courses as well. I think a balance of knowing the legal elements and the underlying business rationale will put you in a great position to understand what your client is eager to do and help them actually achieve it. I also took a project finance course, which was a great segue from third-year law student to first-year PENRI associate.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

The nature of energy transition means that the underlying corporate structures, market positions, and core financing and project agreements are always changing, updating, and providing for newer ways of doing particular transactions. Therefore, we are constantly learning and updating strategies to enable us to be at the forefront of such change. This means keeping ourselves busy on live deals while simultaneously working to be ahead of the game. It certainly keeps you on your toes! 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Domingo: Our practice and daily work are international and often involve cross-border elements that add an interesting and challenging aspect to our day-to-day tasks. We also get to work with clients from all places and with our colleagues at other A&O offices (which resulted in friendships with our counterparts in London and Madrid). Even more, given our work in Latin America, I also get to speak Spanish almost daily with our clients and teams.

Sara: I find it very rewarding to work on complex cross-border transactions that involve multiple parties and jurisdictions and end in tangible projects that benefit local communities. Not many of my peers can say they lead workstreams in market-leading energy transition and infrastructure transactions with cutting-edge financial tools and structures. The passion our clients put behind their projects is really inspiring.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Domingo: We have great and experienced lawyers all around the globe. I have worked with our A&O colleagues everywhere, from Germany to Vietnam to Johannesburg. The ability to call on my peers at these offices, present them with a question or request, and receive their support as if they were sitting at our Washington, DC office is one of the most unique pieces of my job. Working together across these offices and witnessing the smoothness of this collaboration firsthand is truly an amazing experience.

Sara: The direct interaction all associates have with clients is unique to our practice group. During my first week on the job, I was sending emails directly to clients and participating regularly on phone calls or video chats. PENRI associates receive a lot of responsibility early on and are recognized by clients as core members of the team. As a first year, clients sent me a gift on my birthday, company swag, and holiday cards—the kind of stuff I thought only happened to partners.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Domingo: Summer associates receive a genuine insight into our practice and what our daily work is like. Our summer program allows for summer associates to work on real tasks and contribute to our ongoing PENRI matters. I would say that summers get a real feel for what a first-year associate’s day-to-day reality is like in our group, which, to me, is the best way to learn whether this is your calling. 

Sara: Summers not only get a sense of what a day in the life of a PENRI associate is like in the office, but they’re staffed on deals with team members around the country. A summer associate’s physical location for the season won’t stop them from getting to know people in other offices or getting staffed on deals that may not originate in their home office.

Sara Douki is an associate in the Projects, Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure (PENRI) Group at Allen & Overy, based in Washington, DC. She advises various financial institutions and sponsors on domestic and cross-border corporate and project finance transactions, with a focus on emerging markets, energy transition, and sustainability. She also has experience in programmatic counsel roles for the DOC and DOE. Sara received her J.D. from Georgetown University.

Domingo is an associate in Allen & Overy’s PENRI Group. Domingo's work involves representing financial institutions, sponsors, and companies in a wide range of project finance transactions. He focuses on domestic and cross-border matters involving the financing and development of infrastructure and energy projects in the U.S., Latin America, and other emerging markets. Domingo is a native Spanish and English speaker and received his J.D. from Georgetown University.

Ben Martin, Partner—Corporate & Securities • Shannon McKay, Associate—Business & Regulatory Section/Projects
Bracewell

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Ben: I’m a partner in Bracewell’s corporate and securities group. My time is generally spent on enterprise M&A transactions on the buy and sell side for public and private targets, and assisting with entity formation, governance, and fundraising.

Shannon: As a member of Bracewell’s energy projects practice, I work on deals across the oil and gas, traditional power, renewable energy, and energy transition sectors. I advise clients on a wide range of transactions from asset acquisitions to joint ventures and development projects. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Ben: I represent a healthy mix of public companies and private entities. Many of the private entities I represent are private equity funds or portfolio companies owned by private equity funds. Occasionally I work with entrepreneurs in the disposition of their business, and high-net-worth individuals in investing their wealth.

Shannon: The scope of clients that Bracewell serves within the energy industry is incredibly diverse and robust. Our platform encompasses various facets in the energy sector, such as regulatory, finance, restructuring, environmental law, antitrust, tax, and regulatory enforcement. My clients are large energy companies such as Phillips 66, NRG Energy, and Equinor, along with energy-focused private equity companies such as Rockland Capital. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Ben: Recent publicly announced transactions include Drilling Tools International, Inc. in its public listing through a deSPAC transaction; Phillips 66 in its transaction with Enbridge Inc. to realign ownership of DCP Midstream, LP and Gray Oak Pipeline, LLC; and Bison Oil & Gas Partners II, LLC in its sale to Civitas Resources, Inc.

Shannon: I work on acquisitions and divestitures of assets and companies, joint ventures and other corporate arrangements, and project development. Bracewell’s involvement spans across intricate negotiations, strategic partnerships, substantial asset transactions, bankruptcy cases, and pioneering project financing. I was part of the team that negotiated the sale of the Belle Chasse Terminal from Phillips 66 to Harvest Midstream, and advised Phillips 66 in forming Bluewater Texas Terminal LLC, a joint venture with Trafigura Group Pte. Ltd., aimed at developing an offshore deepwater port project in Corpus Christi. In addition, I was on the team that managed the sale of the Brandywine and Broad River power plants, involving more than 1100 MW of power generation for Arroyo Energy Investment Partners LLC. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Ben: The practice area kind of chose me. I accepted an offer to work in Bracewell’s transactional practice. When I showed up, the greatest need was in the corporate and securities group, which was very busy with work in high-yield debt offerings and the growth of master limited partnerships. I sought out opportunities to work on M&A matters because the process was a better fit for my personal skill set and interests. 

Shannon: I worked at Bracewell during my 1L and 2L summers and rotated through our transactional practice groups. I was drawn to the variety of deals in the energy projects group from traditional upstream oil and gas deals to innovative energy transition projects. The work was challenging and exciting, and still is as a senior associate. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Ben: A typical day is a challenge to define. It depends how many transactions I am working on and what stages they are at. It is often a mix of calls with clients and counterparties to discuss the terms of definitive transaction documents (e.g., merger agreement, purchase agreement, or LLC agreement for new joint venture), working with my team to coordinate due diligence, reviewing and commenting on documents or diligence reports, and researching law for compliance purposes.  

Shannon: It’s a cliché to say that no two days are the same, but it’s true! A typical day involves negotiating and drafting deal documents, conducting diligence for upcoming mergers or acquisitions, and brainstorming solutions to complicated legal and compliance issues with colleagues. My morning to-do list looks different from my afternoon list, as clients reach out throughout the day with new deal opportunities and questions. I work on five to seven transactions at any time, so staying organized and using your time efficiently is important.  

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

Ben: Most schools require “Corporations” or “Business Associations.” From there, securities regulation, insurance, bankruptcy, and federal income tax and partnership tax courses are all useful. I took a “Real Estate Transactions” course taught by a former tax partner, and it was the course most like my day-to-day practice. Learning how to think is just as important—if not more important—than the law one learns in law school. Challenge yourself and engage with your most accomplished professors in the subject matter of their choice. Don’t worry if that subject is something niche; focus on the process.

Shannon: As someone who didn’t have any experience with the energy sector before starting at Bracewell, a lot of my learning has happened on the job. Bracewell really invests in the development of associates at the firm with lots of CLE opportunities and technical training in the energy industry. Look into transactional-focused courses, and accounting and finance. Maximize your summer experience by diving into substantive work assignments and developing relationships with the associates and partners who serve as your mentors. Don’t hesitate to ask attorneys to explain their practice to you, or to follow up with questions about what drew them to their specific role. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Ben: Realistically, the schedule. We assist people with the most important transactions they experience in the lifetime of an entity. Stakes are high, and time is of the essence. Once a decision is made to proceed with a transaction, it is often a sprint or high-paced march to the finish. We have relatively little predictability about when these opportunities will present themselves to clients and potential clients.

Shannon: When I started at Bracewell, my only experience was the deals I saw during my summers. I was intimidated to start with other associates who had taken oil and gas classes or even worked in the energy industry. Bracewell gives junior associates opportunities to develop legal skills and the industry knowledge needed to excel. 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Ben: Every few months I am presented with a new target organization to buy or sell. I typically have a few weeks to pick it apart using the legal documents to learn what makes the business tick, the important relationships, and weaknesses. It’s like a new puzzle every month.

Shannon: My favorite thing is the breadth and variety of deals. In any week, I might be working on a midstream pipeline acquisition, an international joint venture to develop a solar project, the sale of an electrical power facility, and the ongoing project management of an offshore wind farm. It’s fun to see our clients take new and creative approaches during this period of energy transition, and to work on first-of-their-kind projects. I am always stretching myself to learn new things and practice new skills, which keeps the work exciting!

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Shannon: When I was in law school, people told me to focus on a litigation practice because I loved to write. Transactional lawyers write all the time! Good transactional writers are masters of close reading and writing—the very best writers can transform an entire contractual provision by just tweaking a word. 

Ben: I have a specialty in Energy, Oil & Gas, but it doesn’t limit the work I perform. I have a competitive advantage in energy because of my familiarity with the operations, the players, and the unique issues like accounting policies and procedures. I think it is great to have a “specialty,” but diversity in your practice is important. The most effective lawyers don’t limit themselves to one transaction type or even one industry. 

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Ben: The easiest opportunity is attending client calls and negotiation sessions throughout the lifetime of a deal. Summers can also find a steady role in the due diligence phase, where documents are being reviewed to determine whether they meet certain criteria, or at the signing/closing of a transaction when we need help organizing the process.

Shannon: We fully integrate summers into deal teams and give them the same work as junior associates. They sit on client calls and negotiations with counterparties, and try drafting agreements and preparing client correspondence. Giving summer associates substantive work with clients across the energy sector is a priority.

Ben Martin assists clients throughout a legal entity's life cycle, from its incorporation and establishment of governance procedures to its termination through merger, conversion, or other business combination. His M&A experience includes the representation of public companies, private investment firms, and private companies in the acquisition and sale of public and private companies. In his M&A experience, he has coordinated with financial advisors to the firm's clients to help manage robust auction processes in search of the most attractive disposition opportunity. He has also assisted clients in their investment in strategic joint ventures.

Shannon McKay serves clients in transactions that involve offshore and onshore wind generation facilities; carbon capture, sequestration, and utilization projects; hydrogen projects; upstream oil and gas projects; pipelines and other midstream facilities; downstream facilities; and merchant fossil-fuel electric generation facilities. She represents energy industry companies, private equity investors, alternative lenders, and financial institutions in transactions that include acquisitions and divestitures of assets and companies, joint venture arrangements, structured finance, project development, and project finance.

Janie Callaway, Associate—Projects
Bracewell

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a member of Bracewell’s Projects Group, I work on a variety of deals spanning the energy sector. The practice is split into oil and gas, and power, the latter of which includes conventional power, renewable energy, and other aspects of the energy transition. I work on a range of projects, from acquisitions and divestitures of assets and companies to joint venture arrangements and project development. Each kind of project requires different documentation and considerations, which requires us to fully understand and appreciate each client’s specific needs.

What types of clients do you represent?

We represent private equity investors, energy companies, and financial institutions. We have recently worked with several clients on projects related to the energy transition, including a number of carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects. Some of my clients include Invenergy, Competitive Power Ventures, Rockland Capital, Navigator CO2 Ventures, and Equinor.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on acquisitions and divestitures of assets and companies, joint venture arrangements, and project development. I was part of the team that represented Navigator CO2 Ventures LLC in its development of an industrial scale carbon capture pipeline system with the capability of permanently storing up to five million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, as well as the team that represented Equinor in its $1.1 billion sale to bp of a 50% interest in two U.S. offshore wind development projects, including the formation of a partnership to develop and operate both such projects. Together, the two wind development projects could generate up to 4.4 GW.

How did you choose this practice area?

When I came to Bracewell as a 2L summer associate, the only thing I knew for certain was that I wanted to do transactional work. I rotated through three groups in our business and regulatory section: finance, corporate and securities, and projects. While I had a fantastic experience in all three, I found myself particularly interested in the deals I was exposed to while rotating through the Projects Group. I briefly worked on a wind farm project, and I was excited about the opportunity to have renewable energy as part of my practice. Beyond that, I was also fortunate to find great mentors within the group whom I really respected and wanted to model my practice after. I recommend taking note of what type of work excites you the most, but to also try to identify potential mentors and advocates. I’ve found both to be equally important in my career development.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My days tend to vary, which is a big part of what I like about our practice. Depending on the type of deal and where it is in the deal process, a typical day could include participating in a call or videoconference to negotiate remaining open items in an agreement, preparing shorter-form ancillary agreements, conducting diligence in connection with a proposed acquisition or merger to determine any potential deal impediments, reviewing a counterparty’s markup to a document and analyzing any possible issues, or having an initial meeting with a client to determine the scope of the project and their expectations. Common tasks I perform include reviewing and analyzing major agreements to identify key issues and revising those agreements to address such issues or to incorporate certain concepts requested by the client, coordinating with specialists to incorporate all necessary changes into an agreement related to their specialty area, collaborating with a team to conduct diligence and to synthesize our findings, and overseeing the open items on a deal to ensure we comply with all deadlines and requirements.

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

My first piece of advice would be to not stress about not having the necessary experience or skills to enter this practice area. So much of what we do is learned on the job through repetition and by watching others. That being said, to the extent your law school offers any classes on transactional work, they certainly can’t hurt. I found my M&A class and Corporations class to both be extremely helpful. Accounting and Finance was useful as well. I would also try to absorb as much information as you can during your summer associate experience. All of the assignments we give are practical and examples of the kind of work you’ll do as a junior associate. They’re a great opportunity to get early exposure and experience with the type of work you’ll ultimately be expected to do.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Each different subgroup under the energy umbrella has its own distinct elements and considerations, so there’s a lot to learn on the technical side. In addition, given the ongoing energy transition, we have to be extremely adaptable and often have to come up with new and original transaction structures in order to meet client needs and incorporate new or evolving technologies. Staying current on market and industry trends can be challenging, but it’s also what keeps our practice exciting!

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

A lot of the work junior lawyers perform centers around keeping a transaction organized. Juniors will create and maintain signing and closing checklists, which will list out the various documentation and action items required to get a deal to signing and/or closing. Juniors will also spend a lot of time reading and reviewing various agreements, with a focus on identifying any errors or logical gaps and inconsistencies. In addition, there are often ancillary documents associated with various transactions, which can be more formulaic in nature and are a great early drafting opportunity for juniors. Finally, juniors will often be asked to listen in on calls and take good notes. This may sound insignificant, but those notes can be extremely helpful and can be a way for a junior to add value early on. Often, the more senior attorneys will be running the call and may not have the opportunity to take thorough notes, so having a record of what was discussed and the outcome of various points is very important. Listening closely to these calls is also one of the best ways to start to learn more about deal mechanics and client interactions.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

The assignments we give summer associates during their rotation through our group are the same work that we assign junior associates. Summer associates will help review contracts, create and maintain checklists, and coordinate closing logistics. The experience is extremely practical and applicable to what we would expect them to be doing once they start full time. In addition, we have summer associates sit in on calls so they can get a feel for typical client interactions and contract negotiations. We also strive to give summer associates exposure to different types of deal structures and different subcategories of energy. For example, you may have the opportunity to work on an oil and gas asset purchase agreement as well as a wind farm project development deal during your rotation through our group.

For those considering corporate work, why would you advise them to specialize in Energy, Oil & Gas?

There is a steady stream of energy work, and it’s a broader “specialty” than it may initially appear. You can focus on a certain facet of the practice area—such as upstream oil and gas or offshore wind, to name but two examples—or you can create a broad knowledge base that covers the entire industry. Each approach has its benefits and setbacks. In addition, the energy industry is constantly evolving, so working in the sector allows you to be at the forefront of a lot of exciting technological advancements. There are also a lot of different considerations that tie into energy transactions, including regulatory, environment, and tax, which gives you an opportunity to work across various teams and specialties at the firm.

Janie Callaway represents clients in a variety of complex business transactions in the energy industry, including the purchase and sale of oil and gas assets and the financing, development, and operation of renewable energy projects. Her clients include energy companies, private equity funds, and financial institutions. Janie received both her undergraduate and law degrees from University of Virginia.  

Cheryl S. Phillips, Counsel
Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I advise clients on all aspects of energy and oil and gas transactional work. This includes complex transactions, such as merger and acquisition work, as well as advising on more routine industry contracts, like operating agreements, leases, midstream contracts, and service contracts. Much of my practice involves advising clients regarding structuring of potential transactions, drafting and negotiating transaction documents, and working with the client to support successful signing and closing of the transaction.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent a broad range of clients involved in the oil and gas and renewable energy industries. Typical clients include oil and gas exploration and production companies (both majors and independents), oilfield service companies, midstream companies, private equity firms, solar energy companies, and individual landowners.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Much of my work involves mergers and acquisitions and divestitures involving upstream or midstream oil and gas properties. I also advise clients in connection with joint ventures, as well as other energy transactional matters, such as leasing, surface use, transportation agreements, and offtake agreements. I also assist from time to time on transactions involving renewable energy or the clean energy transition, such as transactions involving carbon capture and storage, solar energy, or biogas. The common thread is that the transactions concern oil and gas or energy in some respect.

How did you choose this practice area?

When I entered law school, I emphatically did not want to practice oil and gas law. However, during my first clerkship, I was assigned to work with an oil and gas practice group. By the end of that summer, I knew with certainty that I wanted to be an oil and gas lawyer. I chose this practice area because I have always enjoyed the logical, analytical framework of oil and gas law. I like the elegance of an area of law that just seems to make sense if you understand the basic historical property law framework as derived from the English common law system.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

A typical day is hectic and rarely boring. Much of the day is spent in meetings, on the phone, or answering emails. When the “normal” business day ends, the flow of meetings, phone calls, and emails slows, and there is finally time to draft and revise the transaction documents that have been under discussion during the day. My typical day may involve meeting (often over Zoom or telephonically) with other firm lawyers or with clients to discuss structuring potential transactions or to discuss drafts of agreements or negotiation strategies, and then drafting or reviewing and revising transactional documents to implement the strategy and structure. Some days may also include negotiation sessions (again, often over Zoom or telephonically) with the client and the opposing side and their counsel to try to reach an agreement on the deal terms. That would typically be followed by revising the transaction documents to reflect the parties’ intent. This sounds very orderly but given that one is typically juggling multiple deals at any given time, and there is always pressure to turn documents quickly, it tends to feel more like controlled chaos. Additionally, some days may include fact gathering essential to advising the client, such as reviewing title instruments or title opinions, environmental reports, or other diligence materials. Interspersed with the whirlwind of work on large transactions, other common tasks that I perform include preparation of more routine contracts, such as routine service contracts, conducting legal research and preparing written advice to clients, and responding to clients who may call seeking a quick “gut check” answer or bit of advice.

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

A basic course in oil and gas law and, if available, an advanced course in oil and gas contracts would be helpful to someone wishing to enter this practice area. Courses in business organizations, secured transactions, corporate securities, and federal income tax are also recommended.


What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

For me, the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area is its unpredictability. A lawyer in this area must be comfortable with long hours juggling multiple responsibilities and adapting to tight deadlines and changing priorities. Also, the pace of a deal is fast, so in order to be successful in this area, a person must be comfortable working under pressure.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I like the people. I have always enjoyed working with oil and gas clients and other oil and gas lawyers. Perhaps because there are not that many lawyers practicing in this area, relationships with opposing counsel tend to be cordial. I also really enjoy the legal writing that this practice area requires, whether it is preparing a written legal analysis for a client, drafting a contract from scratch, or tailoring an existing contract form to a new deal.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Junior lawyers are involved in all stages of the life cycle of a deal. For example, a junior lawyer will typically take the lead in organizing, coordinating, performing, and reporting on due diligence reviews in connection with potential transactions. This could include reviewing oil and gas leases, marketing contracts, joint operating agreements, farmout agreements, title instruments, and title reports to identify transfer restrictions, preferential purchase rights, drilling commitments or restrictions, title problems, or unanticipated obligations or encumbrances. Junior lawyers may also coordinate with consultants, such as landmen or environmental specialists, involved in the due diligence review process. Junior lawyers participate in drafting and revising a range of transaction documents, including purchase and sale agreements, merger agreements, conveyancing instruments, surface use agreements, farmout agreements, operating agreements, and hydrocarbon marketing agreements. Junior lawyers are typically involved in preparing pre-signing and pre-closing checklists and ensuring that the documents or other deliverables that are necessary to get a deal to signing or closing are prepared and organized. Once closing occurs, junior lawyers may be responsible for overseeing post-closing matters, such as recording or filing instruments in the appropriate records. If legal research is required, junior lawyers often do the initial research and draft legal memoranda.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

The traditional oil and gas practice has evolved, and will continue to evolve, as renewable energy firms expand their footprint and the oil and gas industry diversifies through the clean energy transition. Our firm advises oil and gas companies as they expand into green programs, such as biogas development or carbon capture and sequestration. We also advise renewable energy clients, such as wind or solar companies, that may desire advice on competing surface use by oil and gas operators. These types of matters require lawyers with a strong foundation in oil and gas law.

Cheryl S. Phillips, Special Counsel—Corporate (2023)

Cheryl Phillips is a Special Counsel at Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP, where her practice focuses on mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures in the oil and gas and energy space. Cheryl also advises clients on a wide range of transactional matters involving oil and gas and energy, including joint ventures, farmout agreements, participation agreements, exploration agreements, joint operating agreements, services agreements, midstream contracts, and leases. Cheryl is a 1985 graduate of Rice University and received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in 1989. Cheryl has practiced oil and gas transactional law with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP (or its predecessor firms) in Houston, Texas, for over 25 years.

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