Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins have underscored their expanding energy practices with new lateral hires.
Kirkland & Ellis grabbed an attorney with energy industry focus from Baker Botts, Brooksany Barrowes, who will join the firm as a corporate practice partner in its Washington office. At the same time, Latham & Watkins picked up one of Kirkland & Ellis’ lawyers, Jonathan Castelan, who has worked closely with energy companies on deals, for its Houston office.
In addition to Barrowes, Kirkland & Ellis has been steadily expanding its energy and infrastructure finance practices. Its energy practice has grown over the past five years to some 225 lawyers in its Houston office. In early 2018, the firm hired Rohit Chaudhry, the former global head of projects and project finance at Norton Rose Fulbright, to build a project finance and infrastructure practice.
“We’re planning on doubling the number of lawyers, to about 40 by the end of the year,” Chaudhry told Bloomberg Law. He moved to Kirkland & Ellis along with his former Norton Rose Fulbright partner Brian Greene as well as Roald Nashi and Scott Cockerham. Last summer, the firm added Robert Fleishman, an energy regulatory lawyer, and Kelann Stirling.
“We overlap with the oil and gas practice in Houston,” said Chaudhry, who works in Washington and New York. “It’s often the same players such as private equity funds involved in these deals.”
Barrowes, who came from Baker Botts’ global projects practice, has worked with private equity investors as well as energy trading companies, independent power producers, natural gas and oil pipeline companies and public utilities on matters before federal and state bodies and courts.
At Kirkland & Ellis, Barrowes will beef up the firm’s energy regulatory practice with her experience in regulatory transactional, litigation and internal investigation matters related to the energy industry and commodities and securities markets, according to the firm.
Last year, she successfully represented two energy companies seeking federal approval for their merger. The companies are CenterPoint Energy Inc. and Vectren Corp., companies in Texas and Indiana respectively, which are set to consolidate into a new energy delivery company to serve some 7 million customers.
Energy markets are very active, Barrowes said. “New players are taking part and finding new opportunities for returns. I will be working on a broad range of energy companies to meet their needs, including managing risk.”
As Kirkland & Ellis gained Barrowes, it lost Castelan, who will be working at Latham & Watkins in its mergers and acquisitions practice.
In addition to representing private equity and energy companies in acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures, Castelan also has experience in oil and gas gathering and processing agreements as well as infrastructure projects like pipelines.
He is among the first hires —and more are expected— in a push to grow the Houston office, said Tim Fenn, that office’s managing partner.
“We’ve been at around 85 lawyers for several years, and we’re looking to increase that to over 110 to 120 in the next year,” Fenn told Bloomberg Law. “We will have more lateral hire announcements soon and we’re looking to increase the number of lawyers with energy experience.”
Castelan is the second partner to join Latham & Watkins’ Houston office so far this year. Last month, finance partner Trevor Wommack joined from Vinson & Elkins.
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(Story has been updated throughout to include new quotes from attorneys at Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins.)
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