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.
The firm’s global expansion and 2007 merger was built largely on legacy LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae’s expertise in acting for energy clients, primarily on the sponsor/ developer side, as well as legacy Dewey Ballantine’s track record advising financial institutions on deals in the sector.
The combination made the firm something of a trailblazer in the market, even if the timing – just months before the world collapsed into economic crisis – could have been better.
Few of its rivals would doubt Dewey’s energy-market credentials, and the firm is anything but a bandwagon-jumper.
“We’ve worked in more than 40 countries in Africa and have been in Johannesburg for 11 years,” says global chairman Steve Davis. “In the Middle East only Latham and us of the US firms have four offices to the best of my knowledge. We’ve just celebrated the 21st anniversary of our Moscow office and have been in Almaty for 16 years.
“We see other law firms interested in the energy sector and think it’s flattering, but they need the depth. Having one partner in Houston doesn’t give you an energy practice.”
Depth in energy market expertise is something Dewey certainly does not lack. As one legal market recruitment consultant puts it: “Dewey is one of those firms, like Latham or Milbank, that have a global project finance practice. These are the firms that are likely to be hearing from their clients, ’if you want the big stuff from us you will be there’.”
In other words, strategically Dewey is the kind of firm that believes in boots-on-the-ground. In Houston Dewey has six partners, four associates and three lawyers, although as one industry source puts it: “You need 50 to 75 to register.”
Dewey ramped up that capability in January this year when it hired Baker & McKenzie Houston oil and gas partners Karl Hopkins and Steve Otillar, along with two counsel.
In New York Dewey has six partners handling nothing but finance for energy companies, while in the Middle East, Dewey opened an office in Abu Dhabi in October 2010.
One of the conditions that needed to be met to gain a practising licence in Abu Dhabi was to have renewables capability, a requirement Dewey more than met by locating partner Stephen Jurgenson in the office. In addition, project finance and infrastructure group co-chair Jim Simpson is now splitting his time between London and Abu Dhabi.
Few in the market would doubt that Dewey has proven depth in energy and, unsurprisingly, it advises on most parts of the sector. Its number-one target sector is currently renewables.
Two years ago, Dewey created a renewables and clean energy sector group to marshal its experience and raise its profile in this key energy sector. It was also aimed at providing an internal industry focus for the firm’s significant group of lawyers internationally.
It has paid off. Dewey is currently acting as project counsel on the $5bn Atlantic Wind Connection, a proposed 350-mile underwater electric cable that would form the backbone of a grid carrying power from future offshore wind turbines miles off the US East Coast. Lead partner Eli Farrah in Washington DC and special counsel Markian Melnyk played a key role in the development of the project from its initial conceptual stage, which is being led by independent transmission company Trans-Elect and sponsored by Good Energies, Google and Marubeni.
Elsewhere, Dewey partners Junaid Chida in New York and Sean Moran in Los Angeles are representing Citibank on the 570MW Alta Wind projects in Southern California – the first leveraged lease of wind-generating facilities – which is expected to provide more than four times the capacity of the world’s largest wind farms.
Jim Bowe, Bill Lamb, John Klauberg, John LeMaster, Tom Moore, Bud Ellis
Top three sectors
Oil and gas
Top three geographical regions
Sub-Saharan Africa particularly South Africa
Atlantic Wind Connection, a proposed electric cable off the US east coast
Lead partners: Eli Farrah
Shtokman Phase One $20bn natural gas project
Lead partners: Nabil Khodadad, Jon Hines
The Alta Wind projects, the first leveraged lease of wind generating facilities
Lead partners:Junaid Chida, Sean Moran