Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is launching one of the legal industry’s first dedicated hydrogen practices as the energy sector moves towards cleaner energy and lower carbon emissions.
The new practice will be led by Pillsbury’s energy industry group leader Sheila Harvey and Mona Dajani, who is head of the firm’s renewable energy practice and co-leader of its energy and infrastructure projects team.
Harvey said there’s been a major transformation going on in the energy business over the last year and interest and discussions around hydrogen have grown exponentially along with client demand.
In what might be a first-of-its-kind practice among Big Law firms, Pillsbury’s new group aims to leverage its knowledge in the space to assist clients in hydrogen-based energy technologies, projects and other matters.
“We’re trying to stake out a place for the firm within the energy transition,” said Harvey, who also serves as leader of the firm’s climate change and sustainability practice. “It’s trying to look at the future of the energy businesses as they move to respond to the pressures for cost-efficiency, decarbonization and other things.”
Washington-based Harvey has been with Pillsbury for more than four decades. Her co-leader, London and New York-based Dajani, joined Pillsbury in early 2019 from Baker McKenzie where she was a member of the firmwide steering committee for the banking and finance group.
The new team will draw on the expertise of its attorneys in its existing practices, like litigation, finance, energy, start-ups, and insolvency, among others, according to Harvey. She noted that there are over 40 lawyers at the firm that have experience in the hydrogen sector.
Pillsbury’s hydrogen practice dovetails with its renewable energy practice, which under the leadership of Dajani, has already advised on high-profile projects for clients like Mitsubishi Power Americas on its hydrogen-ready power plant projects as well as hybrid solar and energy storage deals.
Pillsbury works with clients in the transportation technologies space who handle cars, trucks, aviation, shipping, and large-scale nuclear industry technologies as well as clients in the traditional power sectors that are converting to hydrogen as their fuel source, Dajani said.
“Hydrogen represents a major shift in technology and also in the natural gas supply and power generation infrastructure, she said. The firm’s technology practice, which is primarily based in California, “really gives us a head start on understanding our client’s business.”
The firm is also extremely active in the European and Asian markets, particularly in Japan, said Dajani, where the advancement of hydrogen-based energy has been a priority.
“It’s not just the work streams that we have,” Dajani said of the firm, “but we also have geographic points where we’re able to gather market intelligence on a global basis because a lot of hydrogen is really being led outside of the U.S. in Europe and Asia [to] really give our clients a unsurpassed edge.”