Texas Lawyer: What criteria do you consider most important when selecting outside counsel?
Keith Head: Relationships are very important. Whenever possible, I try to bring in outside counsel with whom I have worked successfully. My decisions are based more on individual attorneys than on firms, although for mergers and acquisitions and transactional work it's important to use a firm with a deep bench and multiple areas of expertise. And I like to bring in people I enjoy being around and who are easy to work with.
TL: For what types of legal work do you typically hire outside counsel?
Head: In addition to mergers and acquisitions/transactional work, we use outside counsel for such areas as financing, securities law and litigation. These are areas I don't work in routinely and it's helpful to have someone who deals in these areas daily someone who knows all of the issues, best practices, what's market, etc. I also rely on a couple of global firms who provide in-country expertise and can work directly and efficiently with our international business people.
TL: What can outside counsel do to perform beyond your expectations?
Head: Work and relate well with our business people to help Harvest achieve its objectives, whether it's dealing with transactions, operations or commercial issues. I like to hear our business folks tell me that they accomplished what they wanted with the help of our outside counsel and not in spite of them.
TL: What one thing from your previous work experience is helping you most on the job today, and why?
Head: I've always felt that having a business background both educationally and from the experience of working on the commercial side has helped me provide legal advice that is commercially practicable, as well as being able to prioritize and understand the commercial value of a legal issue.
TL: What do you see as the most important role you play as general counsel for Harvest Natural Resources?
Head: I think a key role for any general counsel is to help solve issues or develop alternatives so that the company meets its business objectives while still limiting its legal exposure.
* The original version of this story included an incorrect number for company earnings.
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