Firm Profile > Vinson & Elkins LLP > Washington DC, United States

Vinson & Elkins LLP
WASHINGTON, DC 20037-1701
United States

Energy litigation: oil and gas Tier 1

Contentious oil and gas matters are managed by the complex commercial litigation team at Vinson & Elkins LLP; this is jointly led by Jim Thompson (Houston), John Wander (Dallas), Craig Seebald (DC) and Guy Lipe (Houston). Notable clients of the practice include Anadarko Petroleum and Occidental Petroleum. Significant work included Houston-based Patrick Mizell and others obtaining a dismissal of $400m in alleged fraud claims brought against international energy trading company Vitol; this involved representation at courts of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. Mizell also leads in representing Apache Corporation in several climate change lawsuits in the Northern District of California; the plaintiffs are Californian municipalities seeking $2bn in damages for a predicted future rise in sea level. Also recommended are Mark Rodriguez (Houston), Matthew Stammel (Dallas) and Phillip Dye (Houston). Austin-based commercial litigator Marisa Secco  was promoted to the partnership.

Energy regulation: oil and gas Tier 1

Deep knowledge of federal regulation is the hallmark of the 60-partner energy regulatory and complex commercial litigation practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP. Washington DC-based John Decker and others are assisting New Fortress Energy with all aspects of its development of multiple small-scale LNG export projects. On the regulatory side, this involves obtaining export authorizations from the DOE. Also in DC, a group led by Anita Wilson advises Jordan Cove on all federal regulatory matters regarding its Jordan Cove Energy Project and Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline; the $10bn project will be the first LNG export project developed on the West Coast, and is aimed at supplying the Asian market. Wilson also counsels East Cheyenne Gas Storage on regulatory issues ranging from rates and tariffs to certification and compliance. Other major clients include Enbridge and AltaGas. James Seegers (Houston) is another name to note; counsels Suzanne Clevenger (Houston) and Damien Lyster (DC) are also highly recommended. Matt Henry departed for an in-house position at Oncor Electric Delivery in March 2018.

Energy: transactions: oil and gas Tier 1

Primarily based in Houston, Vinson & Elkins LLP's 'thorough, responsive, and engaged' practice group is 'able to handle complex transactions in a down-to-earth manner and is really focused on getting deals done'. Jointly headed by John Connally and Kaam Sahely, the team advises developers, pipeline and oil field services companies, commercial banks, export-credit agencies and private equity investors on the purchase, sale, development and financing of oil and gas assets and projects; the firm also has a formidable oil and gas regulatory practice. Douglas Bland and Mark Brasher advised Driftwood LNG and Tellurian on four fixed-price lump-sum turnkey agreements between Tellurian and Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals, totaling $15.2bn, for the engineering, procurement and construction of Driftwood LNG, a liquefied natural gas export facility near Lake Charles, Louisiana. Also recommended are corporate head Keith FullenweiderDanielle PattersonBryan Loocke, who has 'knowledge of everything in the oil and gas space, from basic concepts to complex mechanics', and Thomas Zentner, who has 'built institutional knowledge that allows him to provide consistently insightful, comprehensive advice'. Houston-based Jay Cuclis left for White & Case LLP and New York-based Mike Rosenwasser joined Baker Botts L.L.P.

Capital markets: equity offerings Tier 2

A dominant player in energy deals’, the consensus is that Vinson & Elkins LLP ‘owns the oil and gas space’. The practice, which is particularly active on behalf of issuers, also garners a significant share of REITs, private equity, life sciences and technology-related offerings. Sources highlight capital markets co-chair David Oelman and the ‘up-and-comingRamey Layne as ‘having more experience advising energy issuers than any other partner combination in the market’; together, the Houston-based specialists advised Liberty Oilfield Services on its $248.9m upsized IPO. Layne also acted alongside New York’s Brenda Lenahan to assist Spartan Energy Acquisition Corporation with its $552m IPO. On the technology front, Paul Tobias and Wesley Jones, both of whom are based in Austin, advised SailPoint Technologies Holdings on its $276m IPO. In Houston, the group also draws on the experience of firm chairman Mark Kelly and department co-lead Matthew Strock, while REITs expert Daniel LeBey is recommended in Richmond.

Energy regulation: conventional power Tier 2

Vinson & Elkins LLP handles both contentious and non-contentious matters in the context of conventional energy regulatory work. Besides assisting clients with obtaining FERC approvals for asset transactions, the energy regulatory group also represents them in cost-of-service rate cases, administrative litigation and investigations carried out by FERC's Office of Enforcement. Jim Thompson (Houston), John Wander (Dallas) and Craig Seebald (DC) are the joint heads of the team. A group led by Jo Ann Biggs (Dallas) and John Decker (DC) assisted an electrical transmission and distribution company with the preparation of change-of-control filings demanded by FERC followings its successful change-of-control transaction with Sempra Energy; this transaction was one which the firm had previously handled in the context of Energy Future Holdings' bankruptcy. Other noteworthy clients include Pattern Energy Group Holdings and Tyr Energy. Matt Henry departed for an in-house position in March 2018. Myles Reynolds and Tab Urbantke joined Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP in June 2018 and July 2018 respectively.

Energy: renewable/alternative power Tier 2

The team at Vinson & Elkins LLP is headed by Houston-based John Connally and Kaam Sahely, who have experience of energy and infrastructure project development and industrial investment mandates. Sahely and Dallas-based Peter Marshall advised affiliates of Global Atlantic Financial Group on the $1.2bn acquisition from Southern Power of a 33% minority interest in its solar portfolio. The duo also assisted Goldman Sachs' renewable energy fund with its $350m acquisition of Marina Energy's solar portfolio. Houston-based Jay Cucils left the team for White & Case LLP.

Environment: regulatory Tier 2

The ‘outstanding’ practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP is ‘a great choice for difficult projects’, says one source. With particular expertise in the energy sector, the team defends key permits for development projects, including contested air, water and wetlands permits for power plants and other industrial establishments, and water supply and wastewater discharge permits. In addition, the team also handles approvals for multi-state projects involving NEPA and federal lands, such as pipelines and power transmission lines, and natural resource matters, including endangered species. The firm was retained by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association to advise on the possible safeguards to prevent owners of a physical commodity being held liable for a spill by a third-party, following the Federal Reserve’s proposition to adopt rules preventing banks and other financial institutions from owning potentially hazardous physical commodities due to concerns that the owners could become liable for any accidental environmental catastrophe; Houston-based practice head Larry Nettles led that case. Also recommended are Washington DC-based climate change expert Margaret Peloso, who is ‘among the best in the business’, and Austin-based Eric Groten, who is a full-service Clean Air Act practitioner. Ron Tenpas joined the Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in October 2018. Taylor Pullins is now in-house counsel focused on environmental, health, safety, and regulatory matters at Noble Energy.

Government contracts Tier 2

Washington DC-based Vinson & Elkins LLP ‘takes a very practical approach’ when advising clients in the aerospace and defense, healthcare, engineering and construction, professional services and IT industries on its signature areas of bid protests and claims litigation. In a recent win, co-head David Johnson represented Financial Management Systems in a bid protest over debt collection services over the Department of Education’s $1.4tn student loan portfolio before the Court of Federal Claims. The team also handles cost accounting matters, M&A, subcontract negotiation, False Claim Act matters, as well as suspension and debarment proceedings. Daniel Graham is the other co-head. ‘Smart, collegial and tirelessJamie Tabb, who was promoted to partner in December 2018, handles all work for key client BAE System, including bid protests; Tabb was successful for BAE as an intervenor in a protest filed by PwC concerning the decision of the Department of Homeland Security to award a $46m task order for BAE to provide cybersecurity support services. Other clients include Boeing, KPMG and Johnson Contracts. Senior associate Tyler Robinson is another name to note.

Capital markets: debt Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP, well known for its ‘specialized offering in the energy space’, packs a punch on the issuer side, where it is a popular choice for oil and gas companies looking to access the debt markets. Other key industry sectors include power, transport and financial services. Matthew Strock and David Oelman co-lead a team that also includes chairman Mark Kelly, Douglas McWilliams and Richmond-based Daniel LeBey. Highlights included advising Occidental Petroleum on its $1bn offering of senior notes, and also advising Citigroup as lead underwriter to Enterprise Products Partners LP on its $3bn notes offering. Other representative clients include Southwest Airlines, TPG RE Finance Trust and Western Gas Partners. All named lawyers are based in Houston, unless otherwise stated.

Capital markets: high-yield debt offerings Tier 3

Oil and gas powerhouse Vinson & Elkins LLP is praised for its ‘encyclopedic knowledge of key terms and structuring for energy issuers and underwriters’. The national group, which ‘stands at the leading edge of trends in the capital markets’, also impresses with its ‘first-hand experience of marquee transactions’ and its ‘broad relationship network’. David Stone is a key contact for high-yield debt offerings and teamed up with counsel Daniel Spelkin and of counsel Michael Harrington to advise Targa Resources Partners on its $1bn offering of senior notes. On the manager side, the same team advised Deutsche Bank as lead underwriter on Tullow Oil’s $800m offering of senior notes. The firm has also recently handled work for issuers outside the energy sector, including Belden and Enviva Partners. Named attorneys are based in Houston.

Cartel Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP's recent cartel work includes advising Hitachi on its involvement in the DOJ's global criminal investigation into the auto parts industry, and acting for a Chinese chemical company and its US subsidiary regarding its receipt of a grand jury subpoena emerging from a DOJ investigation. The team was recently bolstered by the arrival of Darren TuckerHill Wellford and counsel Greg Wells from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Other key names include Craig Seebald, Houston-based James Reeder, head of merger investigations William Vigdor and Lindsey Vaala, who was recently promoted to counsel. Named individuals are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

Construction (including construction litigation) Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP combines 'high quality work with consistent availability', underpinned by 'a pleasant demeanor'. The team, which is praised by clients for its 'commitment to success', is led by Ferguson McNiel and Kaam Sahely, both based in Houston. The team is experienced in complex infrastructure projects and is representing Texas Central Partners as project counsel in the multibillion-dollar development of a high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston. Mark Brasher and Sahely led, supported by a team across the firm's Dallas, New York and Houston offices, including 'fantastic' associate Stephanie Coco, who is based in Houston and is 'developing a great practice with respect to complex construction documentation'. Brasher also acted as project counsel to LNG21, which is developing a $2.4bn LNG platform in the Gulf of Mexico; the team advised LNG21 on joint venture agreements and equity negotiations. Alongside the Washington DC-based John Decker, Brasher also advised New Fortress Energy on various LNG projects. Katy Gottsponer, who is based in Washington DC, and senior associate Luke Edney in Houston supported on this matter. Edney, alongside Brasher and Coco, supported Sahely on Gulf Coast Ammonia, a joint venture that is developing and financing a hydrogen-ammonia production facility in Texas. Also active on this matter was Houston-based senior associate Alan Alexander, who is praised by one client as 'one of the best lawyers I have ever worked with' and offers 'partner counsel for an associate rate'. Houston-based James Loftis, who, alongside the London office, handled a series of arbitrations for the Panama Canal Authority relating to the ongoing expansion project, is also noted; McNeil supported on this matter.

Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP's team, jointly led by Clifford Thau in New York, Matthew Jacobs in San Francisco and William Lawler in Washington DC, represents corporate and individual clients in government investigations, as well as handling a variety of white-collar criminal defense matters, drawing on a deep bench of former federal prosecutors. Although the team lost Craig Margolis and Tirzah Lollar to Arnold & Porter in 2018, it gained Ron Tenpas from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Jennifer Freel, who joined as counsel from Ewell, Brown, Blanke & Knight LLP.  Alden Atkins in Washington DC, Lawrence Elbaum in New York, and Michael Charlson and Jessica Heim in San Francisco are also recommended.

Employee benefits, executive compensation and retirement plans: transactional Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP's employee benefits and executive compensation group has ‘the right mix of substantive knowledge, pragmatism and people skills to successfully resolve even the thorniest of legal issues'. ‘Excellent counsellorDavid D’Alessandro heads the team and is advising RSP Permian on its $9.5bn all-stock sale to Concho Resources. In the energy sector, Houston’s Stephen Jacobson handled the benefits arrangements of Talos Energy’s $2.5bn merger with Stone Energy Corporation. Other significant matters saw Houston’s Shane Tucker handling Sailpoint Technologies Holdings’ $240m IPO on the NYSE, and Brian Bloom advising Altagas on its $6.4bn merger with WGL Holdings. Clients singled out Katherine Mull for her ‘great experience and market knowledge’, and also rate associate Gina Hancock as ‘extremely hardworking, knowledgeable and responsive’. Other energy-sector clients include Noble Midstream Partners, Paragon Offshore and Quintana Energy Services. Named partners are based in Dallas unless otherwise stated.

Energy: transactions: conventional power Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP is instructed by electric generation and transmission companies, distribution utilities, independent power producers, financial institutions, clean energy companies, power traders, and private equity and venture capital investors in M&A, investment transactions and project development and finance matters. According to one client, Houston-based practice head Trina Chandler is 'one of the best M&A lawyers in the industry'. Also recommended is Dallas-based Chris Rowley, who advised Oncor Electric Delivery Company on a $400m transaction with Sharyland Utilities to exchange Sharyland's retail distribution operations for a set of Oncor's transmission lines in West and Central Texas. Other key contacts include Katy Gottsponer in the Washington DC office, Maritza Okata in New York, and Houston-based Kaam Sahely, who is noted for his 'deep industry knowledge and experience'.

Environment: litigation Tier 3

In a potentially precedent-setting case, Vinson & Elkins LLP’s ‘vibrant’ practice is representing the San Miguel Electric Cooperative in RCRA, Clean Water Act, and Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act enforcement actions filed by the family owning a ranch adjacent to the client’s 440 MW lignite-fired electric power plant in South Texas; the lignite was strip-mined and the ranch reclaimed by filling the mine pits with coal ash from the power plant and covering the ash with topsoil; Houston-based practice leader Larry Nettles and Margaret Peloso in Washington DC are working on the matter. In other highlight work, the firm has been assisting clients before the federal and state enforcement agencies and in NGO and private citizen claims in matters relating to contaminated sites, damage to individuals and property, pipeline projects, climate change and the Clean Air Act. Other notable names include Jim Thompson, Lewis Sutherland and senior associate Matthew Dobbins, all in Houston. Ron Tenpas joined the Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in October 2018.

Environment: transactional Tier 3

Preeminent’ in the energy sector, Vinson & Elkins LLP is noted for advising on complex matters involving multiple stakeholders. In one example, the team acted for Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Western Gas Equity Partners (WGP) and Western Gas Partners (WES) in a transaction involving Anadarko selling its remaining midstream assets for $4bn to WES with $2bn cash proceeds and the balance to be paid in new Western Gas equity. Further, the team acted on behalf of Vantage Energy Acquisition in negotiating the $1.7bn acquisition of Williston Basin Assets from QEP Resources to form the publicly traded Vantage Energy, involving a post-closing environmental defect mechanism to provide purchase price reductions for environmental issues, and a pending consent decree with the EPA concerning some acquired assets located on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Larry Nettles heads the environmental and natural resources practice group in Houston, with other key names including George Hopkins in Washington DC, and counsel Larry Pechacek and senior associate Matthew Dobbins in the Houston office.

International tax Tier 3

The 'technically excellent' team at Vinson & Elkins LLP has a strong focus on the energy market, and advises foreign and domestic businesses on capital markets deals, M&A, reorganizations, and joint ventures. Washington DC-based Gary Huffman advised Canadian energy company Enbridge on its proposal to acquire certain equity securities owned by Spectra Energy Partners, valued at $11.4bn. Jason McIntosh in Houston and Natan Leyva in Washington DC advised Canada-based MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd on the tax aspects of its $3.6bn acquisition of DigitalGlobe. Houston-based George Gerachis is a practice lead and another key contact. John Lynch in Houston and David Peck in Dallas are recommended.

Merger control Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP strengthened its offering through the hires of Darren TuckerHill Wellford and counsel Greg Wells from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and also promoted Lindsey Vaala to counsel. Google recently engaged the firm to handle a number of cross-border mergers and acquisitions, while William Vigdor and Houston-based James Reeder represented Plains All-American Pipeline in litigation arising from the sale of its crude oil and gasoline terminals to an affiliate of Valero Energy. In other highlights, Vigdor and senior associate David Smith advised Sunoco on its strategic divestiture of over a thousand retail fuel outlets to 7-Eleven. Named attorneys are based in Washington DC unless otherwise stated.

Real estate investment trusts (REITs) Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP's 'practice is very knowledgeable, always available and really excels at structuring and problem solving'. It covers regulatory, financial and tax matters, IPOs, offerings of equity and debt securities, restructurings, going-private transactions, and UpREIT and DownREIT partnership structures; the team has also worked on numerous M&A deals involving REITs. It advised the TPG-backed TPG RE Finance Trust on its $233m common stock IPO. The principal advisers are Richmond's Daniel LeBey, New York-based David Freed, Houston's David Oelman and Matthew Strock, and, in Washington DC, tax expert Christopher Mangin JrGregory Cope and Christopher Green.

Securities litigation - defense Tier 3

Vinson & Elkins LLP frequently represents issuers, underwriters, accounting firms, financial institutions, and directors and officers in securities fraud class actions, and it climbs the ranking this year. John Wander, who is co-head of the firm's complex commercial litigation practice, and Michael Holmes in Dallas are the two key partners. Holmes and Austin-based Jennifer Poppe defended EZCORP in a 10b5 class action in New York that alleged false and misleading statements or omissions regarding, inter alia, regulatory compliance issues with Cash Genie, in which the company owns a controlling interest. The claim was settled favorably. Holmes and San Francisco-based Michael Charlson secured a significant victory for Plains All American Pipeline by securing the dismissal of a class action seeking $1.5bn in damages for stock losses allegedly caused by a pipeline leak in California. Clifford Thau in New York is also recommended.

Shareholder activism Tier 3

At Vinson & Elkins LLP, Lawrence Elbaum advised Nutrisystem on the defense of a campaign brought by Legion Partners, which was subsequently withdrawn. Elbaum and Paul Tobias in Austin also advised Comscore on a campaign brought by Starboard Value. Understandably, the firm handles a number of energy-sector mandates, with Elbaum and Stephen Gill in Houston having represented Sandridge Energy in defense of a proxy fight brought by Carl Icahn. Other clients include Ultra Petroleum and Papa Murphy's, the latter of which the team advised on defense against a short attack by one fund and activist campaigns brought by two others. Kai Liekefett is now at Sidley Austin LLP.

Appellate Tier 4

Covering a wide variety of matters, Vinson & Elkins LLP’s practice is jointly chaired by Dallas-based Thomas Leatherbury and Houston-based Marie Yeats, and has strong expertise in the energy sector, environmental affairs, regulatory issues, mass torts, and intellectual property. Leatherbury led the team on securing a victory for Herring Bancorp in a dispute before the Texas Supreme Court over the redemption of preferred shares held by the opposing party as part of the bank’s conversion into a 'Subchapter S Corporation'. Yeats and Michael Heidler (Austin) successfully represented Anadarko Petroleum in a $100m insurance coverage appeal against Lloyd's of London before the Texas Supreme Court; the Court reversed a judgment of the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Beaumont and confirmed that Anadarko may recover its defense costs arising out of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. At the US Supreme Court, Washington DC-based duo John Elwood and Jeremy Marwell successfully served as co-counsel to the petitioner in White v United States concerning the interpretation of the Speedy Trial Act; the Court sided with White in rejecting the government’s position and remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit. Sandra Rodriguez departed to accept an in-house position.

Civil litigation/class actions: defense Tier 4

Vinson & Elkins LLP's antitrust team is particularly strong in Washington DC, Houston and San Francisco and acts for a client roster spanning a vast array of industry sectors. Alden Atkins is currently leading the advice to Southwest Airlines in a series of civil cases consolidated into multi-district litigation arising from the DOJ's investigation into the US air travel industry, where the major players are alleged to have conspired to restrict seat capacity to inflate fares. In the energy space, Houston-based practice co-head James Reeder teamed up with William Vigdor to represent Plains All American in civil litigation arising from its sale of its crude oil and gasoline terminals to an affiliate of Valero Energy. Darren Tucker, who jointly leads the team with Reeder, recently joined the firm's Washington DC office from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, along with new head of government investigations Hill Wellford and counsel Greg Wells.

Commercial lending Tier 4

Vinson & Elkins LLP has an even mix of borrower and lender work, and is particularly experienced in energy-related financing, including upstream, downstream and midstream oil and gas, as well as renewables. Jointly led by Erec Winandy in Dallas and Brian Moss in Houston, the team is primarily based across its Texas offices, but also fields a strong team in New York, which includes acquisition finance expert David Wicklund. The firm is particularly noted for its relationships with major banks and direct lenders, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citibank, to name a few. On the borrower side, the team advised Talos Energy on the financing of its $2.5bn merger with Stone Energy Corporation, and also acted for SandRidge Energy in the financing of its $746m merger with Bonanza Creek Energy. Other key partners include Brett Santoli in New York, Trevor Wommack in Houston, and Chris Dewar in Dallas.

International arbitration Tier 4

Vinson & Elkins LLP's commercial arbitration team has 'a wealth of experience' in the energy and infrastructure sector, where it recently represented the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq and its agencies, SOMO and Basrah Oil Company, in a number of contentious matters. Of late, Houston-based practice head James Loftis ('a remarkable attorney' with 'a calming presence in proceedings') represented Iraq in a dispute concerning the operation of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline and unlawful exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Also recommended is counsel Tim Tyler and Washington DC-based Alden Atkins, who ‘stands out for his vast knowledge of commercial and investment arbitration’. The firm holds Panama Canal Authority as a client.

M&A litigation: defense Tier 4

Vinson & Elkins LLP represents issuers, underwriters, accounting firms, financial institutions, and directors and officers in deal-related litigation and it is a growing force in the MLP litigation space, handling cases in Texas, Delaware and across the US. In Dallas, John Wander and Michael Holmes (who is 'a rock star with a good strategic mind' and who often handles matters in Delaware) are key partners in the practice. The pair defended Energy Transfer Equity in Delaware Supreme Court and secured its right to terminate a $38bn merger with the Williams companies due to the failure of a condition precedent. The lawsuit, in which Williams sought to force ETE to close the merger, went from complaint to trial in just six weeks. Holmes also secured a major victory for C&J Energy Services when the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder’s challenge to its $2.9bn transaction with Nabors Industries.

Private equity buyouts Tier 4

Vinson & Elkins LLP continues to lead the way in energy industry private equity, and notably advises number of big-name buyout funds, as well as a growing number of financial sponsors. Major clients include Apollo Global Management, Blackstone Capital Partners, Goldman Sachs, KKR, Riverstone and TPG Capital. The team advised TPG Growth on its $1.2bn sale of Discovery Midstream to a newly-formed joint venture between KKR and Williams. It also advised Global Atlantic Financial Group on its $1.17bn acquisition of a 33% minority interest in Southern Power's solar portfolio. Key names include corporate practice head Keith Fullenweider, who has advised the likes of TPG Capital, Blackstone and Crestview Partners. Co-head of the M&A group Matthew Strock and co-managing partner of the New York office James Fox are also prominent practitioners.

US taxes: contentious Tier 4

Praised for its business acumen and technical skills, Vinson & Elkins LLP is, unsurprisingly, especially strong in the oil and gas field. As an example, it is representing Marathon Petroleum Company, LP in a series of cases in the US Tax Court involving the disputed tax treatment of a transaction between Marathon and one of its partners. Outside of energy, it is representing SoCal Sports Net in a Tax Court dispute with the IRS over the tax treatment of certain transactions in connection with a partnership with Fox Sports. The 'accomplished' George Gerachis and David Cole in Houston lead the team.

US taxes: non-contentious Tier 4

Key areas of activity for Vinson & Elkins LLP include formation and operation of MLPs, capital markets deals, and the structuring and taxation of private equity transactions - particularly those in the energy space. Recently, the team advised Canadian publicly listed company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates on its $3.6bn acquisition of DigitalGlobe; it also advised Talos Energy on the tax aspects of its combination with Stone Energy Corporation in an all-stock transaction. Wendy Salinas, David Peck and Todd Way in Dallas, and Douglas McWilliams and Steve Gill in Houston are among the key partners. Enbridge, Devon Energy and Andeavor Logistics are among the team's clients.

General commercial disputes Tier 5

Vinson & Elkins LLP has an active litigation and trials practice; from its multiple offices, its lawyers litigate high-stakes cases around the country. Illustrating the firm's solid reputation in the energy sector and its trial capabilities, the firm was retained by Energy Transfer Equity to defend its right to terminate the company's proposed merger with Williams, which was claiming $10bn in damages; the team – which included Michael Holmes, John Wander and Craig Zieminski – was successful in both Delaware Chancery Court and Supreme Court. Jim Thompson is the head of the firm's litigation practice, and Craig Seebald co-heads the complex commercial litigation group with Wander.

M&A: large deals ($1bn+) Tier 5

Vinson & Elkins LLP remains the market leader in energy sector M&A. It is 'very knowledgeable and responsive' and has 'great market experience'. In 2018, it advised RSP Permian on its sale to Concho Resources in an all-stock transaction valued at some $9.5bn; this was the the largest M&A deal in the oil and gas exploration and production sector since 2012, according to research outfit Wood Mackenzie. Beyond its Houston heartland, the firm has strong M&A teams in New York and Dallas. In a headline deal outside of the energy sector, the firm represented CYS Investments, an agency mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT), on its merger with Two Harbors Investment Corp, a leading hybrid mortgage REIT. The New York team was further enhanced by the arrival of John Kupiec from Kirkland & Ellis LLP, although the firm did lose a four partner team, including New York senior figure Mike Rosenwasser, to Baker Botts L.L.P.Keith Fullenweider heads the corporate practice, which includes M&A group co-head Matthew Strock and New York managing partner James Fox. Emerging names include Stephen Gill, who 'has an extraordinary amount of experience in public company M&A matters that is very valuable', and Lande Spottswood who is 'a very knowledgeable M&A and corporate partner'. All partners are Houston-based unless stated otherwise.

Real estate Tier 5

Vinson & Elkins LLP's client base includes banks, insurance companies, financial institutions, developers, consultants, governmental entities and energy and infrastructure companies. In early 2019 the firm secured a major coup in New York with the addition of a large team from Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, including partners Wallace Schwartz,  Julia Sanabria and Adam Endick. A recent highlight included advising Goldman Sachs on its acquisition of a $350m solar portfolio from Marina Energy. Practice head Paul Martin represented Woods Capital Management on its acquisition of One AT&T Plaza, an office building in downtown Dallas. Newly promoted partner Prentiss Cutshaw took the lead in advising Hillwood Properties on the leasing of a 200,000 square foot build-to-suit facility at AllianceTexas to Mercedes Benz Financial Services. Another highlight included acting for Transwestern Investment Group on its $2.5bn acquisition of three corporate campuses. Randy Jurgensmeyer has particular experience advising investment funds, institutional investors and individuals in forming joint ventures and carrying out real estate transactions for all asset classes. Russell Oshman is also recommended. Carrie Winkler joined as counsel from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. Michael Boulden retired. All named attorneys are based in Dallas.

Restructuring (including bankruptcy): corporate Tier 5

The ‘depth of legal and industry knowledge’ at Vinson & Elkins LLP ‘is unparalleled’, and the team provides ‘hands down the best restructuring lawyers in the energy space’. The practice is involved in Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court restructurings across multiple industries and jurisdictions. Dallas-based William Wallander’s understanding of the law is ‘as deep as it gets and is matched with good commercial sense’. He leads the practice alongside David Meyer, who is also based in New York. The team advised EnCap portfolio company PennEnergy Resources in connection with its acquisition for $600m of substantially all the assets of Rex Energy in a Chapter 11 sale. The team also represented Harvey Gulf International Marine, a leading operator of Jones Act-qualified offshore supply vessels, in its restructuring of more than $1.2bn in secured debt obligations. The client and 90 affiliates filed prepackaged Chapter 11 cases in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in March 2018; after complex negotiations, the plan was confirmed in May 2018. Other clients include Apollo Global Management, Bellatrix Exploration and Morgan Stanley Capital Partners.

Venture capital and emerging companies Tier 5

Primarily based in Austin, Vinson & Elkins LLP's practice has been kept busy handling investor-side mandates. Paul Tobias advised CognitiveScale on its $26m Series B-1 financing, and acted for Elsewhere Partners, as lead investor, in the $12m Series A financing of Statflo. Other clients include Teva Pharmaceuticals, SailPoint Technologies Holdings and Pensa Systems. Wes Jones and Milam Newby are other key contacts. William Volk has retired.

Project finance

Vinson & Elkins LLP is highly regarded for its expertise in handling finance mandates relating to energy and infrastructure projects. Kaam Sahely, who jointly heads the energy, transactions and projects department with John Connally, is advising Woodside Petroleum on its potential participation, as co-sponsor with Sempra, in the $10bn Port Arthur LNG project; he is also advising Gulf Coast Ammonia on the $800m development and project financing of a hydrogen-based ammonia production facility in Texas. Maritza Okata and Karen Smith in New York advised Tyr Energy, alongside Trina Chandler and Washington DC-based Katy Gottsponer, on the financing and development of the Hickory Run Energy Center, a natural gas-fired combined cycle power plant in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Smith also advised Babson Capital Management on the $34.5m purchase of secured promissory notes issued by nine subsidiaries of Cypress Creek Renewables for the permanent financing of each issuer's utility-scale tilt solar array project in North Carolina. Mark Spradling, Mark Brasher and Keith Fullenweider are also recommended, as are New York-based David Wicklund and John Grand in Dallas. Senior associate Simone King in New York is also a key figure, as is Eamon Nolan who joined in 2019 from Linklaters LLP. Named individuals are based in Houston unless stated otherwise. Former department co-head James Cuclis joined White & Case LLP in 2018.

For over a century, Vinson & Elkins’ lawyers have provided innovative business solutions for clients whose needs are as diverse as the entities they represent. In today’s challenging environment of global markets, volatile economies and complex human and environmental issues, the firm’s time-tested role as trusted adviser has become even more critical. The lawyers’ extensive experience, combined with the responsiveness and efficiencies of the firm’s global reach, enables V&E to serve clients from start-up, to the negotiating table and boardroom, and before legislative and regulatory bodies in the courtroom and beyond.

Main areas of practice: Core practice areas include: admiralty and maritime; antitrust; appellate; business transactions; capital markets and securities; climate change; condemnation and land use; construction; contracts; corporate governance and compliance; e-commerce/internet; executive compensation and benefits; employment, labor and OSHA; energy; environmental; finance; financial institutions; government contracts; infrastructure; intellectual property; international dispute resolution; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; oil and gas; outsourcing; private equity/venture capital; project finance and development; real estate; regulatory; REITs; restructuring and reorganization; securities litigation; structured finance; syndicated finance; tax; technology; telecommunications; and white-collar criminal defense.

International work: Vinson & Elkins’ 13 offices worldwide allow the firm’s lawyers to work efficiently across time zones, as well as with local lawyers in foreign jurisdictions, to accomplish the client’s objectives. In addition to legal experience, V&E has strong personal relationships with business people and other professionals that offer significant benefits to the client, including broad experience in transactions spanning multiple jurisdictions, cultures and languages.

The firm efficiently guides its clients through a wide range of transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, public and private offerings of securities in the developed and emerging capital markets, as well as development and financing of a variety of projects.

The firm’s international dispute resolution team engages in international arbitration under all leading institutional rules, as well as international civil litigation in US courts and in other jurisdictions. V&E’s lawyers work with clients to develop effective solutions to the complex problems and unique challenges of international business.

Clients: Since the firm was founded in 1917, it has attracted an outstanding and diverse group of lawyers who serve an international clientele. Clients include the governments of sovereign nations and North American states, cities and municipalities, public and private companies, domestic and international financial institutions, new entities, joint ventures and project companies.

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Number of Partners Worldwide : 222
Chairman : T Mark Kelly
Managing Partner : Scott Neal Wulfe
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