Most Highly Regarded Firms: Oil & Gas 2011

In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.

Most highly regarded individuals
David Asmus Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Houston
Elisabeth Eljuri Despacho de Abogados miembros de Macleod Dixon SC, Caracas
Charles Wood SNR Denton UK LLP, London
Thierry Lauriol JeantetAssocies AARPI, Paris
Pablo Javier Alliani Alliani & Bruzzon, Buenos Aires
Paul Griffin Allen & Overy LLP, London
George Goolsby Baker Botts LLP, Houston
Luis Fernando Ayres de Mello Pacheco Veirano Advogados, Rio de Janeiro
Jay Park QC Macleod Dixon LLP, Calgary
Gbenga Oyebode MFR Aluko & Oyebode, Lagos


Our research selects 419 individuals who are considered by clients, in-house counsel and fellow private practitioners to be some of the very best in the world in their field and jurisdiction. The research for this edition is made up of 77 countries, making it one of the broadest reaching books geographically that we have published in previous years. Several firms perform excellently in this year’s research, with a strong representation from all the major continents of the world, particularly North America.


Leading Firms




Our research finds the leading energy regions where established oil, gas, mining and energy sectors have seen heavy investment and are home to the largest number of firms. In the US, Vinson & Elkins LLP makes a favourable impression in the research with 22 inclusions across six countries. Its Texas office is home to six practitioners, including the “respected” Stephen Davis, the “expert” Robin Fredrickson and Fielding Cochran III who “demonstrates profound legal experiences as well as commercial sense”. In DC, David Andril received international nominations from highly ranked interviewees, while Alden Atkins received praise for his combined expertise in dispute resolution and oil and gas. Anita Rutkowski Wilson has a practice ranging from advising pipeline producers, marketers and distributors, to developing proposed legislation.

In London, Michael Doble and Alexander Msimang are leading lawyers in this field worldwide. In Asia, the firm is very well represented by the “excellent” James Atkin in Tokyo, and a quartet in Beijing and Shanghai, including Paul Deemer, who acted for Sinopec in its C$10.3 billion acquisition of Addax Petroleum, and Jay Kolb, “someone I have a lot of time and respect for”, according to one participant. Hong Kong lawyer James Cuclis is “very well regarded and knows his way around the oil and gas business”. He is a member of the management committee and serves as international coordinator of the firm’s Asia practice, and managing partner of the Hong Kong office. In the UAE office, Lewis Jones has acted for big-name clients on energy investments and the financing of loan portfolios. He is joined by Christopher Strong, an “expert counsellor” for clients such as Merrill Lynch.

David Asmus is an outstanding inclusion from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP this year. He is one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the research. Alongside him is the co-chair of the Latin America team, Brian Bradshaw, and the “impressive” Michael King.

Baker Botts LLP features 14 individuals in the research, hailing from the major energy regions in the world. In Houston, Hugh Tucker is head of the global projects department in Houston and head of the firm’s oil and gas group. He advised India’s Reliance Industries on its acquisitions of a 45 per cent stake in natural gas assets in Eagle Ford Shale as part of a joint venture deal with Pioneer Natural Resources for US$1.36 billion in cash alongside George Goolsby, who is “very highly thought of”. Goolsby earns a place on the most highly regarded lawyers in this year’s research for his extensive experience in auction processes for sellers and buyers, gas sales, processing and transportation arrangements, among other areas. Jason Bennett is “outstanding” and Kevin Keenan has a “thriving” practice acting for international clients, while James DeMent applies his trade and customs knowledge to multinational oil and gas concerns. The firm also has a DC office with three lawyers making an appearance in our research.

In Saudi Arabia, Babul Parikh from the Law Office of Mohanned bin Saud Al-Rasheed In Association with Baker Botts LLP, specialises in oil and gas financing and has represented major Saudi banks and financial institutions. In Dubai, Sean Korney acts for clients such as Midas, Virgin Resources, PetroChina and many others.

Steven Wardlaw is the head of the Moscow office where he advises on structuring and developing markets, projects in the down and mid-stream sectors and regulation. Antony Higginson is a “key oil and gas lawyer” in the London market and Hamish McArdle is “highly recommended” for his work on billion-dollar deals.

In Hong Kong, David Renton has built a “very good reputation” for counselling public and private entities on LNG projects, M&A and the development of infrastructure, and Russell Wilkinson concentrates on the expansion and financing of energy projects, particularly in the LNG petrochemical sector.

Fulbright & Jaworski LLP features eight lawyers from the same jurisdictions. In DC, managing partner Steven Pfeiffer is “knowledgeable” in the sector, and has been responsible for the energy and natural resources committee of the International Bar Association, with a special interest in African power and resources. In Texas, Mark Baker and Michael Irvin are both very experienced energy practitioners. Baker is considered “top-notch” as co-head of the firm’s international department and co-head of the arbitration and ADR group, and Irvin heads the firm’s global energy and real property department. George Kutzschbach is “one of the best at Fulbright” for his M&A, project financing and infrastructure practice.

Stefan John Ricketts is the sole inclusion for the firm in Hong Kong. He earns a mention for his legal work in LNG liquefaction and regasification projects as well as advising on infrastructure and investment opportunities. Similarly, Richard Devine in Dubai concentrates on joint ventures and M&A in energy projects. In London, Susan Hope Farmer and David Moroney are considered leading practitioners.

Paul Griffin and John Geraghty are notable inclusions from Allen & Overy LLP: both are very experienced in the international oil, gas and M&A sectors in London. Griffin features in the most highly regarded list of individuals this year. Marinus Winters in Amsterdam is an “exceptional regulatory energy and competition lawyer”, and Rod Cork in Paris brings his previous in-house experience to his cross-border leverage transactions and energy company restructurings. Angus Jones is “really one of the best in this region” for oil and gas, and Geoff Simpson joins him. In Dubai, Bimal Desai is a “first-class lawyer” particularly in the financing of energy deals.

Elizabeth Eljuri at Despacho de Abogados miembros de Macleod Dixon SC, enjoys an inclusion in the list of most highly regarded individuals of 2011, as does Toronto-based Jay Park QC. Both are much lauded by their international peers, and appear as part of a seven strong contingent from the firm that spans four countries.

Among the five lawyers listed from SNR Denton LLP Charles Wood in London is a “talented” disputes and energy lawyer, with an inclusion in the most highly regarded individuals list this year, and Karen Krug in Kazakhstan is “the go-to person” for M&A and venture deals as former president of the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators.

Herbert Smith LLP has always held a strong presence in our Asian research, in addition to their English and French expertise, and this year is no different. Head of the Asia energy practice Anna Howell is an “expert”, with an interest in renewable and emission schemes. Richard Nelson in Singapore advises BNP Paribas and GDF Suez, among other big name clients. Rebecca Major divides her time between Tokyo and Paris, acting for Chevron Texaco, Mitsubishi Corporation and EDF, among others. Also in Paris, head of the energy and infrastructure group, Africa practice and mining group Stéphane Brabant is “a leader in the field” and focuses on risk mitigation and crisis management, with demonstrated experience in handling crisis situations in Africa, as does Bertrand Montembault who has over 15 years working on oil and gas deals in both France and Africa. In London, David Clinch’s practice centres on project development, acquisitions and disposals, project finance and joint ventures and Ted Greeno “has a real following in the industry” for his dispute resolution of oil and gas related matters.

King & Spalding LLP features seven lawyers, led by Philip Weems, the co-head of the global energy practice and managing partner of the Singapore office. He specialises in power and infrastructure with a concentration on LNG, gas and shipping issues. He is “always very good to deal with”, according to one contributor. In Houston, Ken Culotta focuses on producers, transport and storage providers and LNG/CNG concerns. He is joined by four other lawyers. Garry Pegg co-manages the London office, where he provides general advice on major financing.

Chairman of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, Steven Davis has over 30 years experience at the firm and has practised in utilities, power, pipelines, renewables and clean energy sectors. Dirk Walker in the Beijing office has represented Chinese state-owned and private oil companies on a number of pan-Asian deals.

In Houston, Steven Otillar is a “respected” lawyer with experience in the Association of International Petroleum Negotiators. In London, John Coleman LaMaster chairs the firm’s oil and gas global industry sector group and is a member of the executive committee. He has worked on major deals throughout the world, and does work for oil companies with projects and investments in Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Oman, among other countries.

In the Rome office, Rino Caiazzo is an “authority” on EU competition issues arising from commercial ventures in the energy sector. Jonathan Hines combines his Moscow practice with work in New York. He comes “highly recommended” from a number of clients. Gavin Watson in Dubai is a “popular lawyer” in this region.

At JeantetAssocies AARPI Thierry Lauriol advises lenders, financiers and state entities on projects in Africa. He is among the list of the most highly regarded lawyers in the research, as is Gbenga Oyebode MFR of Aluko & Oyebode in Lagos, managing partner of the prominent Nigerian all-service firm.

Similarly, Pablo Javier Alliani of Alliani & Bruzzon in Buenos Aires is in the list of most highly regarded lawyers of 2011 for his numerous nominations and international reputation, as is Luis Fernando Ayres de Mello Pacheco from Veirano Advogados who is “front and centre of the oil and gas practice at the firm” in Rio de Janeiro.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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