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Intense regulation, price cuts and mergers have all had a knock-on effect for lawyers specialising in the energy field.
Since regulatory bodies in charge of electricity and water demanded that companies slash domestic bills, businesses are calling on their lawyers to advise them on the changes. In turn, lawyers have been expanding their skills in this area to accommodate the need.
In-house teams have only relatively recently started to depend on external lawyers, since due to the specialised nature of the sector, legal issues were usually handled internally.
For upstream work, in-house lawyers still keep a tight grip on the work. But for downstream work, the industry is now more reliant on outside counsel.
As firms invest more in providing an energy capability, more lawyers are moving into private practice, which inevitably helps when trying to win a panel place. The energy sector still has a touch of the old boy network about it, where personal recommendations are valued over the conventional beauty parades. But companies are not completely adverse to asking firms to undertake a presentation.
Regional firms can pick up some work but it is the City firms which are the star players since they have the resources to throw at a sector which is still growing and developing.