Vinson & Elkins RLLP > London, England > Firm Profile

Vinson & Elkins RLLP
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Real estate > Construction: contentious Tier 1

Vinson & Elkins RLLP has an excellent reputation for contentious matters relating to high-end, complex projects, both in international and domestic markets. The team acts across a range of sectors, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, infrastructure, power, energy and urban redevelopment. The international construction practice is co-headed Nick Henchie and Roberta Downey, who recently joined from Hogan Lovells International LLP. Henchie has extensive experience in international arbitration and dispute resolution for construction and engineering matters, whilst Downey specialises in onshore and offshore construction and energy disputes. Scott Stiegler has notable experience long-running energy and infrastructure disputes. The team has also been bolstered with the addition of partners Angus Rankin and Nabeel Ikram, both previously at Hogan Lovells International LLP. Since joining the team, Rankin has had a particular focus on power projects and serving the firm’s growing client base in Asia.

Practice head(s):

Nick Henchie; Roberta Downey

Other key lawyers:

Scott Stiegler; Angus Rankin; Nabeel Ikram; Ben Grunberger-Kirsh; Jarrod Gutsa


‘The Vinson & Elkins team is made up of very talented individuals and the team is going from strength to strength. They have talent across the board and are able to handle the largest of disputes. They are particularly adept at dealing with energy-related construction disputes.’

‘Scott Stiegler is a stand out disputes lawyer. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and is commercially very savvy. He leaves no stone unturned in getting clients what they want.’

‘An extremely professional, experienced, and savvy team. Well used to acting in the very highest value disputes and with great strategic insight.’

‘Roberta Downey has remarkable strategic insight and an unfailing ability to see the wood for the trees in order to achieve her clients’ objectives. Her commitment to the detail of every case and incredible work ethic are remarkable and often make the difference for her clients.’

‘The market knows Nick Henchie to be the fiercest of opponents. He can out-think so much of the competition and his stamina is unbeatable. One of the absolute top-rank in his field.’

‘Angus Rankin knows power projects like the back of his hand, and is increasingly sought-after for rail disputes. His time as a senior in-house lawyer means he’s always on top of the commercial factors and gives practical advice. He’s first-rate.’

‘Ben Grunberger-Kirsh’s star is definitely rising fast. He is a wise head on young shoulders. He wins clients’ trust easily and is really coming into his own as a specialist in offshore construction disputes.’

‘Jarrod Gutsa is one of the best and brightest, driven by a desire to win and calm under pressure. He’s a natural leader.’

Key clients

Panama Canal Authority

Wren Insurance

Work highlights

  • Advising on a series of arbitrations for the Panama Canal Authority arising out of complex and technical construction disputes valued in the region of US$5 billion with Grupo Unidos por el Canal, a consortium of European and Panamanian companies hired to design and build the Third Set of Locks as part of the Panama Canal expansion project.
  • Representing Wren and its insured, Building Design Partnership Limited, in defending a multi-party TCC claim related to the procurement and development of a mixed-use retail and residential project in the UK brought by the site owner. The overall sum in dispute is in the region of £60 million.

Projects, energy and natural resources > Oil and gas Tier 2

Vinson & Elkins RLLP has a strong track record in high-value and high-profile corporate and financing work in the oil and gas sector and is active in a range of jurisdictions including emerging markets. It advises on the full life cycle of projects, from inception and structuring through to financial close and operation of the project. The group is jointly led by Alex Msimang and Nabil Khodadad, with Msimang recommended for cross-border energy-related M&A, and Khodadad bringing broad financing experience to the team, with particular experience of projects in the CIS region. Andrew Nealon is a name for project development work, including EPC matters, and Lauren Davies was promoted at the beginning of 2022. At the more junior end of the team, Nadine Amr is a senior associate who focuses on M&A, while counsel Alistair Wishart is recommended for construction and development projects.

Practice head(s):

Nabil Khodadad; Alex Msimang


‘The team is very quick on responses’.

‘The inviduals have a rich experince and solid judgement’.

‘They are able to provide their services taking into consideration the business objectives, aims, contractual undertakings / restrictions and financing requirements of our business’.

‘Whilst we work with many of their team members, we mainly work with Nabil Khodadad, Lauren Davies and Andrew Nealon. All of them, with their extensive previous experience in the oil and gas sector, are worth much more than an external counsel and also are efficient problem solvers’.

‘Andrew Nealon is very good at finding solutions’.

‘Lauren Davies is very strong in summarising complex issues in simple forms’.

‘Nabil Khodadad is an excellent advisor’.

‘The partners have good legal knowledge and commercial knowledge in the sector and they are keen to educate the junior members on every matter’.

Key clients

State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic

Uzbekneftegaz JSC

STAR Rafineri

SOCAR Polymer

Uz-Kor Gas Chemical

SOCAR Turkey Enerji A.S.

Uzbekistan GTL LLC

Work highlights

  • Providing ongoing advice for the implementation of the largest project financing in Turkey, the approximately $6.3bn STAR Rafineri Project, having originally advised on the construction, development and financing of the Project.
  • Providing ongoing advice to Uzbekistan GTL, a subsidiary of Uzbekistan’s state oil and gas company Uzbekneftegaz JSC, on the sale of assets to Air Products.
  • Providing ongoing advice to SOCAR Polymer in connection with substantial amendments to the finance agreements in connection with the approximately $800m high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant and polypropylene plant in the Sumgayit Industrial Park, Baku, Azerbaijan, having originally advised on the construction, development and financing of the Project.

Real estate > Construction: non-contentious Tier 4

Providing advice on 'complex projects from inception to close', the London office of US firm Vinson & Elkins RLLP handles high-value projects across a full range of sectors, both in international and domestic markets. Andrew Nealon heads the non-contentious side of the wider construction team, with significant experience in international construction developments and projects, primarily in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Nealon

Other key lawyers:

Alistair Wishart


‘V&E’s non-contentious construction lawyers work hand in hand with their contentious team. They continue to regularly advise on complex projects from inception to close.’

‘Andrew Nealon leads a top-notch front-end construction practice in London. You’ll find him at the forefront of large scale-energy projects, and he divides his time between more traditional infrastructure and increasingly cutting-edge energy transition work.’

‘Alistair Wishart is completely unflappable and misses nothing. A master at protecting the client but still getting the project off the ground.’

Key clients


SOCAR Polymer

SOCAR Turkey Enerji A.S. and BP

STAR Rafineri

Uzbekistan GTL LLC

Dispute resolution > International arbitration Tier 5

Vinson & Elkins RLLP’s London group is well known for representing energy and oil and gas clients in high-value disputes. Louise Woods is experienced in investment treaty and international commercial arbitrations; Nick Henchie is a construction and engineering disputes expert; and Scott Stiegler acts in international construction disputes. In 2021, construction disputes partners Roberta Downey and Angus Rankin were recruited from Hogan Lovells International LLP, while former counsel and London practice co-head Alexander Slade joined Mishcon de Reya LLP in February 2022.

Practice head(s):

Louise Woods

Other key lawyers:


‘Very highly regarded for energy-related disputes – technically excellent lawyers who are all very approachable.’

‘Very astute insights that focus on the issues that matter.’

‘V&E is a firm that adapts to clients’ needs and is always willing to go the extra mile for the client.’

‘Unique for its vast experience and remarkable knowledge of international arbitration, and its concentration on core areas, such as energy and power, in addition to construction disputes. Excellent quality of legal services that are tailored towards the client’s needs.’

‘Louise Woods is not only a remarkable lawyer in terms of knowledge and expertise but also a professional to look up to. Her strong commitment to female empowerment and new talent development are remarkable.’

‘Louise Woods is known not just for the quality of her practice, but for her excellent work on gender diversity through ArbitralWomen.’

‘Louise Woods – outstanding focus. Louise is highly professional during fact-finding processes, whether by analysing facts or determining the key elements of the dispute. She also has vast experience in international commercial arbitration disputes.’

‘Nick Henchie is a partner of choice in all major construction matters – always very dedicated. Strong strategic approach in complex arbitration cases and team leadership skills.’

Key clients

Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq Basrah Oil Company

Panama Canal Authority

Work highlights

  • Representing the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq (as representative of the Republic of Iraq) in two ongoing arbitrations.
  • Handling a series of arbitrations for the Panama Canal Authority, arising out of complex and technical construction disputes with Grupo Unidos por el Canal.

Latin America: International firms > International arbitration

Houston-based James Loftis leads a Vinson & Elkins LLP international arbitration team that provides ‘clear, precise and well-founded solutions’ for its clients in both commercial and investor-state matters. The ‘excellentCamilo Cardozo in New York is a key contact for Latin America work, with London-based Nick Henchie known for his extensive construction industry expertise. Up-and-coming New York-based partner José F Sanchez handles arbitral matters in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and has experience of ICC, ICSID, ICDR, LCIA, UNCITRAL and Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce rules - particularly as regards infrastructure, energy, investor-state relationships, and post-acquisition disputes.

Practice head(s):

James Loftis


‘The Vinson & Elkins team led by Camilo Cardoso is excellent. They have extensive knowledge of arbitration.’

‘The commitment to the advisor-client relationship is extraordinary. Camilo Cardoso is there for the client every step of way.’

‘José Sánchez knows his cases in detail and delivers excellent work.’

‘They spend as much time as necessary to thoroughly understand the case and present clear, precise and well-founded solutions.’

Key clients

Panama Canal Authority

XTO and Exxon Mobil Exploration Argentina

Offshore Exploration and Production

Tampico Beverages

New Fortress Energy

Work highlights

  • Handling a series of arbitrations for the Panama Canal Authority (arising from the complex Panama Canal extension project) against Grupo Unidos por el Canal, a consortium of European and Panamanian companies.
  • Representing Tampico Beverages in its dispute against Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, arising from a licensing agreement between the parties for the manufacturing, promotion and sale of Tampico’s products.
  • Representing Offshore Exploration and Production in ICDR arbitration against the state-owned oil companies of Korea (Korea National Oil Corporation) and Colombia (Ecopetrol).

United States > Dispute resolution > International arbitration

The 'highly intelligent and creative' practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP stands out for its specialist focus on energy, infrastructure development and construction disputes. The team secures a steady stream of both commercial arbitration and investor-state disputes and acts for the full range of private and public companies, sovereign states and state-owned entities. James Loftis drives the international dispute resolution practice from Houston and is widely recognized for his skill sets in the oil and gas and construction spheres. In New York, Camilo Cardozo demonstrates 'huge experience and knowledge' and is noted for his focus on Latin America-related matters. Counsel José Sanchez also has a significant LatAm dimension to his practice.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:


‘Excellent team from V&E; all lawyers have an excellent knowledge of arbitration and claims.’

‘We particularly value the team’s dedication to learning our business and understanding our people.’

‘Lawyers are highly intelligent and creative in presenting the best case possible to further our interests.’

‘Camilo Cardozo is the best lawyer/advisor that I have worked with. He is an excellent lawyer with huge experience and knowledge.’

Key clients

Panama Canal Authority

Khaitan Holdings (Mauritius) Ltd.

Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq

Exxon Mobil Corporation

KBR, Inc.

Offshore Exploration and Production LLC

Tampico Beverages Inc

E Energija UAB

Basrah Oil Company

CMC di Ravenna

Work highlights

  • Representing the Panama Canal Authority in a series of arbitrations arising out of the Panama Canal extension project.
  • Representing the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq (as representative of the Republic of Iraq) in two arbitrations.
  • Representing Basrah Oil Company in a number of contentious matters,

The firm: Vinson & Elkins is a large international law firm, which has experience across a number of industries and has been repeatedly ranked as the world’s leading energy law firm.

Lawyers at Vinson & Elkins are committed to excellence and steeped in the energy and finance industries, offering clients experience handling transactions, investments, projects and disputes worldwide. The firm’s deep bench of approximately 720 lawyers worldwide collaborating across 12 offices allows a multi-disciplinary approach, whether clients need guidance on complex transactions or litigation.

London serves as a coordinating centre for Vinson & Elkins’ operations in Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with respect to clients operating out of Europe, the US, London, and elsewhere. The firm is accustomed to working not only in mature markets, but also in less familiar and more challenging environments, under developing local regimes and with evolving communications or infrastructure.

Since the early years of Vinson & Elkins’ existence, the firm has represented a broad cross-section of the top players in the energy industry and is now recognized as a global leader in energy-related transactions. The firm’s lawyers have worked on, or are currently working on, some of the most high-profile, complex and unique deals to take place in the international oil and gas sector. Vinson & Elkins brings insight and know-how, building on a strong foundation that offers clients an understanding of the intersection of energy, finance and the law.

Vinson & Elkins’ London office also has extensive experience across multiple other industry sectors, including construction, infrastructure (including telecoms infrastructure) and private equity.

Principal areas of work: Cross-border M&A; private equity; corporate finance and securities advice (including international equity and debt capital markets); joint ventures and other strategic alliances; banking and finance (including acquisition and bridge financings); international energy transactions; project development and finance transactions; construction; litigation and arbitration; restructuring; legal and regulatory compliance; tax; real estate finance; international telecom infrastructure transactions; and employment.

Clients: KKR, Macquarie, The Carlyle Group, Equilor, Cairn India, Helios Investment Partners, Republic of Iraq Ministry of Oil, Riverstone LLC, J.P. Morgan, Agrica Oil Corp., SOCAR, TPG Sixth Street Partners.

International: The firm’s clients include the governments of sovereign nations as well as public and private companies from around the world, domestic and international financial institutions, investment firms, portfolio companies, cities and government agencies, new enterprises, joint ventures, project companies and individuals.

The firm has offices in Austin, Dallas, Dubai, Houston, London, New York, Richmond, Riyadh, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, DC.

Recruitment: The firm currently offers between four and six training contracts per year, commencing each September. The training structure at V&E comprises of four seats. During the first year the trainees rotate through two different practice areas each for six months. During the second year, while trainees will be located in a further two practice groups, the year does not run on a rigid seat system, but instead a trainee will gain wide experience in all practice areas, working with a wide variety of associates and partners from across the firm. At the start of each rotation each trainee will be assigned to a supervisor with whom they will share an office, however they are expected to receive work from everyone within the assigned practice area, not just the person they are sharing an office with. Whist the trainees are based in London, the firm undertakes a regular secondment programme to other offices (particularly its offices in Dubai and its headquarters in Houston). In addition to the Training Principal (currently Andrew Nealon) and another graduate recruitment partner (Paul Simcock) and their supporting team, trainees will have the support of an associate mentor (appointed for the full two-year training contract for continuity) to provide an extra, and often first, port of call for support and assistance.

Administrative partner: Alex Msimang

Chairman T Mark Kelly
Administrative partner Alexander Msimang
Managing partner Scott Wulfe
Capital markets and securities
Climate change
Corporate governance and compliance
Employee benefits and executive compensation
Employment litigation and labour
Insolvency and reorganisation
Intellectual property
International arbitration and litigation
Mergers and acquisitions
Private equity/venture capital
Project finance and development
Public policy
Real estate
Number of partners worldwide : 200 approximately
Number of lawyers worldwide : 720 approximately