UPDATE: 3/26/13, 10:30 a.m. EDT. Two other DLA Piper energy partners—Jeremy Kennedy and Carlos Sole—have left the firm’s Houston office to join Baker Botts in Houston.

A little more than a year after five energy partners defected from Hogan Lovells in a high-profile lateral move to DLA Piper, four of those partners, including energy practice cohead Kevin Lipson, are returning to their former firm.

Lipson, then the cochair of the energy practice at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., announced in January 2012 that he was joining DLA along with partners Lee Alexander, Stefan Krantz, John Lilyestrom, and Christopher Schindler.

The group specializes in advising clients in the natural gas sector, an increasingly busy practice in the United States as energy companies increase their operations in shale gas reserves across the country amid federal government efforts to make the nation energy independent and, hopefully, a major energy exporter by 2030, according to a recent U.S. intelligence estimate.

"Natural gas is a game changer for the U.S., there’s a tremendous amount of consolidation in the energy business," says Lipson, contacted via cell phone Monday by The Am Law Daily to discuss his move back to Hogan Lovells. Lipson says he and his team represent companies in a variety of energy-related areas, from those working with renewable resources to operators of natural gas pipelines, in matters before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Lipson says he spent 18 years at Hogan Lovells and predecessor firm Hogan & Hartson before deciding to pursue an opportunity last year at DLA. And while most of the group is on the move again, Alexander, a former Hogan Lovells partner who specializes in regulatory and transactional energy issues, will remain at DLA, according to sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times.

"We wish them well," a DLA spokesman told The Am Law Daily when contacted Monday about the decision by Alexander’s four former colleagues to return to their longtime professional home. Hogan Lovells saw gross revenue dip 1.9 percent in 2012 to $1.633 billion, while profits per partner slipped another 6 percent to $1.1 million, according to The BLT.

DLA, meanwhile, saw its revenue increase 8.6 percent to $2.44 billion, while profits per partner climbed another 6.9 percent to $1.3 million, according to preliminary reporting by The American Lawyer. The global legal giant has been rapidly growing in size amid a shakeup of its leadership ranks, according to our previous reports.

In a press release announcing the hire of Lipson and his team last year, DLA global energy practice chair Robert Gruendel said their "extensive energy backgrounds in energy regulation and knowledge of multiple energy sources" would be a major asset "at a time of extraordinary change and opportunity in the energy industry."

DLA’s hire of Lipson and his group was brokered by Scott Yaccarino and Jordan Rosenthal, a partner and vice president, respectively, in the Washington, D.C., office of legal recruitment firm Empire Search Partners. The four-partner team that is returning to Hogan Lovells after a year at DLA did not use a recruiter this time around, said Lipson, adding that he relied on his previous connections at his former firm to "expeditiously" negotiate a return.

Asked whether or not Hogan Lovells co–CEO J. Warren Gorrell Jr.—recently named one of the most 100 influential lawyers in America by sibling publication The National Law Journal—had played a key role in wooing his group to rejoin their former colleagues, Lipson was effusive in his praise of the law firm leader who helped arrange a merger between Hogan & Hartson and British firm Lovells in 2010.

"Warren plays a role in everything that goes on at Hogan Lovells," Lipson said. "He’s not only a visionary, but he also maintains a significant practice, as well as a personal connection to almost every lawyer at the firm, which is really remarkable and unlike anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere."

Adds Lipson: "And having been gone for a year, I can certainly attest to that."