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November 20, 2013 Articles

Three Ways to Boost Your Energy-Law Practice

Involvement with the committee can work wonders for your career.

By Basheer Ghorayeb – November 20, 2013

You are already a member of the Energy Litigation Committee, or you wouldn’t have received this issue of the Energy Litigation Journal. (If you found this article on our committee website, please continue reading to learn why you should join the committee.) The journal is one of the great benefits you enjoy because of your membership in the committee, but your membership gives you access to much more.

For example, did you know that your membership also provides you with opportunities to develop more business? That’s right, the committee can help you gain greater expertise and expand your network of business contacts, helping you boost your energy-litigation practice. And you’ll enjoy doing it because you’ll be meeting and working with interesting people from around the country.

I want to make sure you are taking full advantage of this opportunity. So in this article, I'll share three ways in which you can leverage your membership in the committee to develop more business.

Build Expertise
Let’s face it, it’s impossible to keep up with all the developments in energy law. As you try to develop or maintain your expertise in energy law, you’re forced to monitor any number of fronts. And the fronts have been multiplying: The recent renaissance of the U.S. energy industry has engendered a similar renaissance in U.S. energy law, with new legislation, litigation, and regulations cropping up in jurisdictions that, until recently, had been on the periphery of energy law. It can be hard to know which of these fronts to monitor. Your client, which is doing business across the country, might be affected by a city ordinance in Ohio, a new precedent in Pennsylvania, or a new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency. Who has time to stay abreast of all these developments?

The Energy Litigation Committee does. Throughout the year, your committee colleagues curate and summarize the key developments in energy law, posting them to the committee's website. Take a moment now to check and you’ll see three resources for deepening your expertise in energy law.

The first resource you’ll notice is News & Developments, which will update you on important judicial decisions and developments in the law. For example, you can learn about an important appellate opinion issuing from the BP oil litigation, or read about the struggle to balance public-health disclosures and trade secret protection in the ongoing debates about fracking fluids.

Next, you’ll notice the Articles section of the website, which offers a more in-depth look at energy issues. Here, we include not only articles from the Energy Litigation Journal but also articles written specifically for the website. Visit the Articles section of our website right now to learn about emerging trends in shale-play litigation or the latest legal challenges to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Finally, you will want to listen to our Sound Advice podcasts, featuring advice from some of our most experienced colleagues. Listen to George Lugrin to learn about control of well policies, also known as "blow out" insurance. Or listen to Gregory Brown as he gives you advice on how to become your clients’ go-to lawyer.

So choose a topic to explore, and click on one of the links provided in this article to get started right away.

Get Famous
You’ve worked hard to develop your expertise in energy law. Now it’s time to build up your reputation as an expert so your colleagues and clients will know of your hard-won expertise, and so potential clients will be able to find you. How can you build your reputation as an expert in energy law? Again, the committee can help. We provide you with several opportunities to speak and publish on all aspects of energy litigation.

First, you can publish an article in the Energy Litigation Journal. This e-newsletter is delivered on a quarterly basis to the inboxes of all committee members, including in-house and outside counsel from across the country. Write an article for the journal to showcase your expertise in an area related to energy litigation. Choosing a topic for your article is easy. Our authors often get their ideas from recent cases they have handled, new legal developments being reported in the news, or CLEs they have recently given. Still not sure what to write about? Contact one of the journal’s co-editors (Basheer Ghorayeb or Reagan Bradford) for help on ideas for potential articles.

Second, you can record a Sound Advice—think of it as a podcast from the committee. We will publish your recording on our website, allowing you to reach thousands of people, cementing your reputation as an expert. If you are interested learning more about Sound Advice, contact Barclay Nicholson or Abby Risner.

Third, you could also get involved in helping us present a regional roundtable. These are free webcast CLEs, in which you and fellow members would give a CLE over the Internet. If you want to learn more about how to get involved in a regional roundtable, contact Barclay Nicholson or Abby Risner.

Build Relationships
My favorite part of working with the committee is getting to know and work with talented lawyers from across the country. By attending committee meetings and working on subcommittee projects, I have made new friends in the energy industry. The opportunity to network and form these professional relationships is the most valuable benefit of joining the committee. But you can't form these relationships over the Internet. You need to meet your colleagues, in person, at the various conferences and meetings hosted by the Section of Litigation, the ABA, and the committee.

So how do you get started? I know that successfully coordinating that first meeting with the committee can seem like a daunting task. It’s hard to tell from an ABA conference schedule where and when the various committees will be meeting. The key is reaching out to the committee’s membership cochairs before the conference. Here is a four-step action plan for successfully connecting with your fellow committee members:

Step One: Pick a conference, such as the Section of Litigation Annual CLE Conference or our committee’s annual regional meeting in Houston, co-hosted with the Institute for Energy Law and the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources.

Step Two: Contact our membership cochairs, Richard Douglass and Todd Murray, and let them know you are coming to the conference; they’ll invite you to the committee dinner scheduled for that conference, and they’ll let you know of any committee meetings occurring during the conference.

Step Three: Attend the conference, find our membership cochairs, and let them introduce you to your colleagues on the committee.

Step Four: Keep building on the relationships you’ve just formed by participating in the regularly held committee conference calls. You’ll recognize the voices of the members on the phone because you’ll have met them at the conference.

That’s an easy plan for developing valuable professional relationships. But what if you don’t want to wait for the next conference? Is there something you can do to get started right away in forming a meaningful professional relationship with other committee members? Yes, there’s an easy way to do that, too. All it takes is an email or a phone call to the committee cochairs. You could ask them to help you join a subcommittee and start working with the subcommittee cochairs and members on the committee’s various initiatives. The active subcommittees at this time include the Membership, Energy Litigation Journal, Website, Programming, and Books subcommittees. If you want to get involved in an existing subcommittee, or start a new one, simply contact the committee cochairs, Ken Klemm or Liz Klingensmith, and they will help you get started.

* * * *

When you joined the committee, you took a wonderful first step to developing your expertise, reputation, and network in the energy law area. But now it’s time to take the next step in your journey. So pick one section in this article—Build Expertise, Get Famous, or Build Relationships—and commit to pursuing one of the options I’ve laid out for you. Then click on one of the links I’ve provided.

Your colleagues on the committee are already enjoying the benefits of membership—they are honing their expertise, growing their reputation, and forming relationships—and they’re excited for you to join them. Your next step is just a click away.


Keywords: energy litigation, career, client development, business development, networking, expertise, oil, gas


Basheer Ghorayeb is a partner with Jones Day in Dallas, Texas.

Copyright © 2013, American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association, the Section of Litigation, this committee, or the employer(s) of the author(s).