LEGAL TIMES: You’re entering your fourth year as head of the D.C. office. What unexpected challenges have you faced along the way?
MIKE NAEVE: What I didn’t understand or expect when I first started practicing law is how dynamic the practice of law is. Even in a particular practice area, the needs of the practice change from year to year and you have to stay in front of it if you want to be successful. That presents a challenge, but it also makes it exciting and interesting. But for that, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
LT: What are your thoughts on the regulatory forecast for 2013?
NAEVE: Starting with energy, shale gas is probably the most important development in the energy space in some time. It’s having huge effects on our energy profile — not only the gas markets but, for that matter, the electricity markets. It affects which technologies are viable and which technologies are not viable. In that area, there will be lots of interesting issues coming up in the next year, issues pertaining to the potential export of shale gas and how that will affect prices and industries that are reliant upon gas. It will also affect electricity prices. Any regulation or legislation dealing with renewable and clean energy will also affect the choice of technology. We recently saw a one-year extension of the wind tax credit. Further extensions of that tax credit or other incentives for renewable energy will affect the construction of new facilities and it will affect our project-finance practice.
In addition to that, EPA regulation of coal plant emissions will affect the potential retirement of a great many coal plants. As those plants are retired, that, too, will spur a need to replace that capacity and investment. Again, something that will affect our project practice and perhaps our other transaction practices.
LT: What other regulatory practice groups are likely to see changes soon?
NAEVE: On a broader scale, I think the implementation of the Affordable Care Act will be important — not only from a Washington regulatory perspective when it comes to implementation and regulation, but also from a transaction perspective. As that act is implemented, it will create new business opportunities for health care providers and new transactional opportunities. Likewise, the continued implementation of Dodd-Frank will be important.
LT: In 2011, the firm renewed its D.C. lease. Are there any plans for renovation and expansion?
NAEVE: We have a lot of flexibility. We acquired a significant amount of additional space in the buildings where we’re housed — and I think of it as a campus, because there are three buildings but they are all interconnected and function as one. We did acquire additional space to give us flexibility for growth. We don’t have specific growth targets. Our goal is to have the resources in place to meet the needs of our clients. As those needs change we will add resources as necessary, so we want the flexibility to do that, but we don’t have specific targets.
LT: You’re from Texas. Where do you go to get your fix of barbecue and Mexican food?
NAEVE: Los Cuates in Georgetown. That is where I go most often. I also go to Rio Grande Café. Those are probably my two favorites for Mexican food. For barbecue, I’ll eat barbecued ribs just about anywhere, but I haven’t found any place here that cooks brisket like you get back in Texas.