Adding transactional and financing expertise in the energy sector, Sidley Austin has hired a three-lawyer team headed by partner Tara Higgins, who previously co-led Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s global power practice.
In addition to New York-based Higgins, the group also includes Washington, D.C.-based partner Noreen Phelan—previously a partner in Orrick’s energy and infrastructure practice—and a senior associate in Washington, Chris Hutchison. They all join Sidley’s energy and infrastructure practice, expanding an existing roster of more than 140 energy professionals at the firm.
Cliff Vrielink, the global leader of the practice, said in a statement Thursday that the firm is excited to have Higgins, Phelan and Hutchison on board.
“Their extensive experience and reputation in the renewable energy and conventional power industries further bolsters our ability to help clients in these complex, capital intensive industries,” said Vrielink. “Tara, Noreen and Chris are well-known for helping clients execute market-leading transactions.”
Higgins acted as co-head of Orrick’s power practice for the past six years, and before that held a practice leadership role at the now-defunct Bingham McCutchen, which she left in 2013. Her practice focuses on domestic and international energy and infrastructure projects. She has worked on a range of different kinds of transactions, including project financings, high yield and bond financings, and mergers and acquisitions.
Phelan often represents private equity and other strategic investors in wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and other alternative energy projects, as well as conventional power generation facilities, according to Sidley.
Discussing the team’s move, Higgins said she was drawn in part by the quality of the lawyers at Sidley, some of whom share a past as Bingham alumni and others whom Higgins has worked alongside in the context of deals.
She also said Sidley offered a larger platform and a top M&A group. Her team’s expertise in project finance and other areas, she added, both builds on capabilities that Sidley already has and expands the energy practice, particularly in the renewables space.
“We’re very complementary to the energy practice,” Higgins said of her team. “We add strength on strength, and some new strengths in different areas. … What I’ll be helping to lead the efforts on is growing the renewable energy platform.”
The Higgins-led team is coming off a successful 2018 that included closing three large M&A deals in the renewable energy sector. Among those was a representation of infrastructure investment firm I Squared Capital in connection with its sale, worth over $500 million, of wind farm operator Lincoln Clean Energy LLC to the Denmark-based offshore wind farm developer, Orsted A/S.
In addition to the work in the renewables space, Higgins and her team also have had a hand in M&A transactions and financings related to hydroelectric and conventional energy assets, according to Sidley.