Transatlantic Elite 2011
The US shale gale has rejuvenated Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s traditional oil and gas practice, much in the way a merger with Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe might have rejuvenated the entire firm.
In the race to cover the globe with a myriad of flags, few firms have achieved reach on the same scale as Allen & Overy (A&O).
In May this year Ashurst unveiled plans to launch a New York project finance practice, underlining its ambition to secure a piece of the expected boom in US infrastructure projects, many of them related to the energy and natural resources market.
Emerging markets and renewables are the buzzwords for Baker & McKenzie’s energy practice, as the international firm extends its reach beyond its long-established staples in oil, gas and power.
Baker Botts kicked off what it expected to be a busy 2011 with a brace of multibillion dollar M&A deals, including offshore drilling specialist Ensco’s $7.3bn acquisition of Pride International and UK-based Wood Group’s disposal of its well support division to US industrial giant General Electric.
Roughly 60 per cent of the chargeable time generated by Chadbourne & Parke’s project finance group in the past five years has been on renewable energy and biofuels projects.
Any firm would be happy with a $67bn deal under its belt, so Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton can be forgiven for being proud of its role advising Brazilian energy giant Petrobras on its mammoth global equity offering, the world’s largest ever.
In an increasingly crowded market, Clifford Chance is one name bouncing consistently around the top echelons of the energy industry.
At Cravath Swaine & Moore, where lawyers pride themselves on taking a generalist approach to the market, there are no strict internal sector-based departmental lines.
Multibillion-dollar energy deals are a dime-a-dozen at Davis Polk, but is its lucrative haul in the energy sector a result of the firm’s expertise in the area or a more general strength in M&A?
The question of Debevoise & Plimpton’s prominence in energy circles was raised late last year when London-based partner Peter Rees quit the firm to join Royal Dutch Shell.
With at least 20 per cent of the firm’s total 2010 revenue derived from clients in the global energy market, natural resources is very much a core area for Dewey & LeBoeuf.
Its critics might dismiss it as mid-market and one-size-fits-all, but DLA Piper is marching ahead in its quest to plant flags in new jurisdictions and expand its energy practice across the globe.
The cream of the world’s M&A instructions do not necessarily flow from having a leading project finance capability, but as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer found to its cost, it is a specialism you ignore at your peril.
Credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service provides credit ratings for more than $1.5tr of debt securities associated with utilities and project financings.
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher might not be the sort of firm to shout it from the rooftops, but the past year has seen its energy practice steadily pick up momentum with key deals and office expansions.
The history of Herbert Smith’s domestic energy practice is rooted in the North Sea, when the firm advised on financings for a string of US companies entering the UK market.
A year on from the merger of US firm Hogan & Hartson and the UK’s Lovells, the combined firm’s energy partners claim they are already reaping the results of Hogan Lovells’ new global footprint.
The recovery of hydrocarbons is like wringing blood from a stone. Some hydrocarbons are thinner than blood (and some much thicker) and some rock is more squeezable.
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.
Kirkland & Ellis is another one of the band of US firms that likes to think of itself as being, as one partner puts it, “agnostic on industries”.
Of all The Lawyer’s Sweet Sixteen firms it is Latham & Watkins that has made the most explicit push into tapping the global energy transactional market recently.
Linklaters is among the firms where the energy practice has long benefited from its global approach.
While much of the internal turmoil Mayer Brown endured several years ago appears to be largely behind it, the firm is now a smaller and more geographically diverse animal than it was prior to the fiscal meltdown.
Milbank’s traditionally less-than-ravenous appetite for growth means that over the past three years most of its lateral investments would cumulatively fit into any one of Latham & Watkins’ strategic moves.
The reputation of Morgan Lewis & Bockius in energy circles has historically lain in its regulatory practice.
Three international mergers in two years have meant exponential growth for Norton Rose, with new presences in Canada, South Africa and Australia extending the energy practice’s global footprint.
A glance at the revenue per lawyer (RPL) rankings will tell you that, firmwide, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is not among the global elite.
?Shearman & Sterling has had its fair share of critics in the past few years, but a number of big-ticket deals and a breadth of practice areas are evidence of its continued success in the energy arena.
Simpson Thacher blindsided most in the legal market when, as exclusively revealed in The Lawyer, in April this year it unveiled plans to open an office in Houston with the hire of Vinson & Elkins banking partner Robert Rabalais.
Late last year, Skadden underlined both its public company M&A credentials and its reputation for energy sector-related deals when it scooped Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman to advise Chevron on its $4.3bn acquisition of Atlas Energy.
Slaughter and May has built its reputation on top-quality legal brains spread throughout a small but well-connected network of offices. Despite its relatively tiny footprint, the London-based firm remains attractive to big-ticket, global energy deals.
SNR Denton’s high-profile transatlantic merger last September heralded a new era of increased global prominence for both legacy firms.
Some transatlantic firms rush to plant flags around the globe. Some hold high-profile energy summits. Sullivan & Cromwell opts for a more low-key approach. The firm eschews ring-fenced teams of lawyers in the energy sector, preferring to see it as one avenue of work for a broad range of its practices.
Ever since 2008, when The Lawyer first published the Transatlantic Elite, we have tracked the activities of a collection of trailblazing firms known as the Sweet Sixteen.
Vinson & Elkins is one of Houston’s - and therefore the US’s - oil and gas big two.
When it comes to potentially tricky public company M&A, the number one firm to turn to in the US - maybe the world - is Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. And that blunt assessment is as true in the energy and natural resources sectors as it is in any other.
Weil Gotshal & Manges’ focal point in the global energy market, which even its own lawyers would admit is not a core sector for the firm, has traditionally been private equity.
White & Case has a long and illustrious history, but although during 2011 the ship has been steadied, 2010 was a year its energy practice would prefer to forget.