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The world’s top law firms can beef up in energy all they like, but if their face doesn’t fit with clients then it’s time for a rethink.
Here, The Lawyer unveils 20 of the energy sector’s leading in-house lawyers – the people who really matter when it comes to handing out the top energy matters.
Damian Bach, National Grid
National Grid general counsel Damian Bach is responsible for BritNed, a joint venture with Dutch grid operator TenneT to build and operate an electricity link between the UK and the Netherlands. Bach led the legal team on the e600m venture with Mark Tomlinson in 2007, instructing Norton Rose despite Allen & Overy’s longstanding relationship with the client. Law firm partners say Bach takes a more active role in business matters than many in-house lawyers.
Jim Bender, The Williams Companies
Jim Bender is an in-house stalwart, working at NRG Energy, AlliedSignal (now Honeywell) and Pfizer. Bender was appointed senior vice president and general counsel of The Williams Companies in 2002. He advises on Williams’ substantial transactional business and is well-known in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the company is based.
Rupert Bondy, BP
“If I were in that job and I went through what BP has gone through, I must be doing a good job,” one energy partner says of BP group general counsel Rupert Bondy’s stellar work seeing the company through tough times. Bondy has gravitated to advising at board level, and is considered one of the top in-house lawyers in the sector. He started as an M&A lawyer at Morrison & Foerster, moving in-house in 1995 to SmithKline Beecham.
Charles Carroll, Terra-Gen Power
Charles Carroll left Dewey & LeBoeuf last year to join Terra-Gen as senior vice president and general counsel. One partner says: “Charlie has a very in-depth understanding of the intricate legal issues you face in a deal and has the ability to see things from a distance. He has the ability to roll his sleeves up”. Carroll has steered the company through major deals such as the financing of the Alta Wind projects in California.
Stephen Douglas, Total Gas & Power
Legal director Stephen Douglas oversees a team that carries out much of Total’s legal work in-house. Douglas himself is deployed for the most challenging legal points, which arise frequently thanks to the difficult national regimes with which the company has to deal. One partner describes him as “a real lawyer’s lawyer – he’s an exceptionally bright man, very hard-working and has a very clear drafting style”.
Leslie Freiman, Horizon Wind Energy
Leslie Freiman made partner at Baker Botts in 1998 and became general counsel of a Houston power company two years before joining Horizon’s predecessor Zilkha Renewable Energy as project counsel in 2004. She was appointed general counsel of Horizon in 2005 and sits on the executive committee. She is also a member of the North American management team of EDP Renewables.
Francois Graux, IPR-GDF Suez
Francois Graux has been a major legal player in the energy industry for more than a decade. In February he became general counsel and company secretary of the newly-merged International Power arm of GDF Suez, based in London. Graux joined Suez Energy International as general counsel in 2003. After the 2008 merger of GDF and Suez he became general counsel for GDF Suez Energy Europe & International. A London energy lawyer says: “He’s a very credible lawyer. To rise to the top in an organisation like GDF Suez you have to play the corporate game.”
Paul Halas, GE Energy Financial Services
Paul Halas was senior vice president of business development at National Grid USA when he was appointed to his current position of managing director and general counsel at GE in 2006. Private practice lawyers note his mixture of legal skills and business sense, a key attribute given the deals he has overseen, such as GE’s $603m acquisition of a controlling stake in Regency Energy Partners in 2007.
Janet Langford Kelly, ConocoPhillips
Janet Langford Kelly was a partner at Sidley Austin when she moved in-house in 1995, becoming general counsel at Sara Lee. She joined Kellogg’s in 1999 then Kmart in 2003. After a stint as a partner at Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason, she moved to ConocoPhillips in 2006 as deputy general counsel and corporate secretary. She became legal head in 2007.
Hans Henrik Klouman, Statoil
Hans Henrik Klouman takes up the reins as general counsel of Norwegian oil company Statoil on 1 August, taking over from Tom Melbye Eide, who has moved to a legal position supporting the global strategy and business development team. Klouman arrives from SEB Bank, where he has been CEO, since 2007. He was previously general counsel and executive vice president of Storebrand. In the early 1990s he worked in private practice at Norwegian firm Thommessen.
David Kultgen, Saudi Aramco
David Kultgen was promoted to general counsel and corporate secretary at the start of 2010 taking over from his only predecessor, Stanley McGinley. He joined Aramco in New York in 1973 straight from law school and moved to its Dhahran headquarters in 1974. His reputation precedes him, not least because of his involvement in key downstream joint venture investments in Saudi Arabia and his role negotiating energy matters related to the country’s 2005 accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Joseph Listengart, Kinder Morgan
Joseph Listengart is vice president, general counsel and secretary for pipeline owner and operator Kinder Morgan. An “upfront and honest” general counsel, according to one partner, he is responsible for the legal functions of Kinder Morgan, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners and Kinder Morgan Management.
Massimo Mantovani, Eni
Massimo Mantovani became legal affairs senior executive vice president of Eni in 2005, having been legal head for Eni’s gas and power segment. Italian and English-qualified lawyer, he has worked for firms in Milan and London. Lawyers say they admire his ability to lead a team on key deals that involve high stress levels. “He’s gathered a very talented group of lawyers,” one says.
Graham Martin, Tullow Oil
General counsel and company secretary Graham Martin is the senior figure in Tullow Oil’s well-regarded legal team, which he has led since he joined in 1997. His relationship with Tullow goes back to his days in private practice, as he has acted for the company since it was formed in 1985. Martin is a former partner at Vinson & Elkins, which Tullow hired for its $2.9bn sale of stakes in three Ugandan oil projects to Total and CNOOC this year.
Brian Miller, AES
A former counsel at Chadbourne & Parke, Brian Miller has been at AES since 2001, serving in a number of senior roles in the legal teams. He has been general counsel since 2005. One partner says: “He’s become very much a businessman as well – one very capable of making business decisions.” Miller sits on AES’s development steering committee and the board of AES Solar Energy.
Elizabeth Moore, Con Edison
“If you’re general counsel of ConEd, you almost become influential because you’re the general counsel of ConEd,” says one partner. Elizabeth Moore came out of a government role to take up the position as head of Con Edison’s legal team, and was previously a partner at Nixon Peabody, specialising in public finance, government compliance and regulation. She was previously legal counsel to New York State Governor Mario Cuomo. One source says: “She’s got that quiet, useful way of advising”.
Hew Pate, Chevron
An antitrust lawyer deep down, Hew Pate only recently moved into the oil industry, joining Chevron as worldwide legal head in August 2009. He worked in private practice for Hunton & Williams as head of the global competition practice from 2005, and was assistant attorney general for the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division. As deputy assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003, Pate was responsible for regulatory matters including those covering the energy sector. Pate’s role for Chevron makes him one of the top people in the oil industry, not least because he oversees a number of legal teams covering different aspects of business.
Peter Rees QC, Royal Dutch Shell
Former head of Norton Rose’s disputes team, Peter Rees QC was deployed to build the City firm’s practice in construction law. He moved to Debevoise & Plimpton in 2006 and then Royal Dutch Shell in January this year. As legal director of a 1,000-strong team, Rees advises on group-wide matters and sits on the executive committee. He made silk in 2009. One lawyer describes him as: “One of those extraordinary people who can deal with information with rare ease.”
Robert Reeves, Anadarko Petroleum
Since 2007 Robert Reeves has led a legal team with no shortage of critical matters to deal with. He defended the natural gas producer on its dispute with BP post-Deepwater and played a key role in Anadarko’s acquisition of assets belonging to bankrupt oil and natural gas explorer TXCO. Described by one partner as a “tremendous growth story”, Reeves “navigated a very fast-growing independent gas company” through a major activity period.
Graham Vinter, BG Group
When Graham Vinter moved from Allen & Overy, where he had spent 27 years, his prominence in the energy sector reached a new level. Having been global head of projects, Vinter became general counsel of BG Group, advising the board of a major listed company. As legal head of one of the world’s top gas companies, Vinter is simply a leader in the field. As one private practice lawyer says:
“In terms of structuring any deal with a financing in mind, Graham is your man.”