Global 100: Oil in the blood
In previous careers, Vinson & Elkins (V&E) lawyers were roustabouts and roughnecks - petroleum engineers, land men and oil tanker dispatchers. They anchored pipelines to the Persian Gulf bed and the Atlantic Ocean floor, to the Alaskan tundra and the West Texas plains. Their families were entrenched in this world, too. Litigator Paula Hinton toured a wellhead factory on her first date with the man who became her husband. Regulatory expert Kathleen Lake grew up napping in her family's Oldsmobile station wagon while her father and grandfather, geologists, checked hydrocarbon cores in the dust of South Texas. Carbon trading guru Larry Nettles has six close family members now or formerly in the energy business. "This is the type of 'in the blood' relationship that simply does not exist in New York or London," he says. 'Oil in the blood' is a metaphor that pops up a lot in Houston, especially at the two leading deal firms, V&E and Baker Botts. But some in London are sceptical, including the general counsel of BP, who controls as many billable hours as any oil man on the planet. "Those [law firms] that say they have oil in their veins need to be clear about the distinctive contribution they can make on a particular matter, separate from in-house counsel or other outside firms," says BP general counsel Rupert Bondy.
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