Houston’s Bracewell raids A&O, HSF and Links for City energy boost

Houston firm Bracewell & Giuliani has appointed three energy partners to its London office, poaching associates from firms including Linklaters and Allen & Overy (A&O). 

Morgan Lewis & Bockius partner Martin Stewart-Smith, who has more than 20 years of experience in the energy markets, is to join the firm alongside Linklaters associate Ben James, an energy lawyer advising oil and gas companies and A&O senior associate Darren Spalding, a dedicated upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas lawyer. All three join Bracewell as partners.

Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) senior associate Olivia Caddy, who advises on structured debt financings particularly in the energy sector, is also joining the US firm as senior counsel.

The hires are a further boost to Bracewell’s energy practice ambitions. In January the firm hired Simmons & Simmons energy specialist Julian Nichol as office managing partner (15 January 2013), along with HSF associate Alastair Young, who joined Bracewell as a partner.  

When asked by The Lawyer earlier this year what would be the focus of Bracewell’s reborn City office, firm-wide managing partner Mark Evans said: “energy, energy, energy”, adding that the availability of shale gas is, “obviously one of the reasons we want to be here”.

In 2011 shale gas drilling at three exploratory wells near Blackpool sparked a couple of minor earthquakes and a moratorium on exploration in the UK. On 13 December last year the Government ended that ban and kick-started a potential shale gas revolution here.

Bracewell’s 2012 financial results show the impact of the US ‘shale gale’ on the firm. Total revenue was up by around 20 per cent to $325m. The firm’s net income rose by 49.1 per cent, while average profit per partner jumped by 42 per cent, to $1.45m.

For more on Bracewell’s ambitions for London, see feature and our exclusive video interview with former New York mayor and name partner Rudy Giuliani.