Eight energy regulatory lawyers left Vinson & Elkins to form Caldwell Boudreaux Lefler, a Houston boutique that will do work for the oil pipeline industry.

The lawyers formed Caldwell Boudreaux on Aug. 1 to avoid conflicts between their regulatory work for clients in the oil pipeline business and other V&E clients. The parting is amicable and the firms will work closely together when they can, says Mark Kelly, chairman of Houston-based V&E.

"If there are particular questions that arise, we are going to have, if not on speed dial, quick dial," says Kelly, who participated in a conference-call interview Aug. 1 with Caldwell Boudreaux founders Charles Caldwell and Michelle Boudreaux.

Caldwell says the conflicts for his group's practice at V&E were "just the reality" of a firm with a large roster of energy industry clients that may do business with pipelines.

"The reality is when you look at your typical list of energy companies that will be developing in areas of shale formation, I have literally been in situations where seven of eight clients of a potential [pipeline] client are clients of V&E," he says.

In addition to Caldwell and Boudreaux, the other partners in the new firm are Dean Lefler, Bert Tabor, Amy Hoff and Elizabeth Kohlhausen. John Robinson is of counsel and Debbie Repman is counsel.

When asked if the firm will add associates, Caldwell said, "Ask us in six months."

Boudreaux declined to identify clients of the new firm, but the lawyers represent major liquids pipeline companies. Caldwell says the group may be the largest of its kind in the country.

Kelly says V&E retains a large number of electricity and natural gas regulatory lawyers.

Boudreaux says she, Caldwell and Lefler will manage the firm by committee.