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The recent move by US firm Bracewell & Giuliani to ramp up recruitment in its London office suggests that the shale gas sector is a particularly hot one in the
UK right now. But is that reallythe case?
According to Freddie Lawson of Glass Consultancy, lawyers with LNG experience are currently in high demand.
“There are likely to be lots of LNG deals, both in the UK and financed from the UK globally over the coming years, and the elite firms need to ensure they are tooled up for this activity,” says Lawson. “There’s a strong hope that infrastructure will continue to be an important tool for the UK government to get growth moving.”
Meanwhile, it is too early to see any obvious indication of a widespread hunt for shale gas specialists, adds Lawson.
“With most of the UK’s shale gas reserves under the land mass of England and with techniques of extraction still so controversial, we’re yet to see City-based firms investing heavily to get ahead of that curve,” he comments. “Having said that, energy and energy finance lawyers are those most in demand, and this is likely to continue to be the case in the longer term.
“They are the ones best placed to take advantage of the shale gas revolution if and when it hits.”
As Lawson adds, all eyes were on the chancellor’s Budget speech last month. And those eyes will have seen George Osborne pledge an extra £3bn for infrastructure projects, a bonus for the sector that is sure to generate significant new work for energy-related lawyers.
Laurence Simons director and head of private practice Guy Adams says some of the key sectors of the market where there is particular demand include lawyers with financing experience, particularly in the area of energy and renewables.
“We’re seeing demand for energy lawyers with experience across the whole spectrum of projects and infrastructure work,” says Adams. “To the extent that there’s a unifying factor to the demand it’s that firms are ideally looking for lawyers with considerable experience on projects based outside the UK, most specifically in Africa.”
At the moment there is generally strong demand for candidates who fall into one of two categories of experience, adds Adams.
“It’s either partners with good contacts and a solid book of business or associates with at least two or three years of specific energy-focused experience, or teams combining the two,” continues Adams.
As for the impact of the UK’s own shale gale industry Adams says there are some signs that, on the candidate side, lawyers are already looking to get up-to-speed on the technical front “so they are well-positioned as and when that work really starts to flow in”.