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We are proud to profile the honorees of our 2016 Top Women in Energy awards. The following women are recognized for their work in the area of energy law—an area that has been particularly volatile this past year.

The women profiled in the following feature represent all areas of energy law, from regulatory to bankruptcy, to mergers and acquisitions, to clean energy and litigation.

Although we have traditionally featured a Women in Law issue, this year it is particularly relevant that we honor women that are in a challenging area. And to add to the uniqueness of this feature, we decided to personalize these profiles by asking the honorees to answer a set of questions. The Q&A answers have been edited for length and style.

An event will be held in their honor Dec. 5 at the Magnolia Hotel in Houston to recognize their achievements in this practice area.

Congratulations again to these amazing women.

 

Click on the name to jump directly to the person’s profile. To go back to the list, click your browser’s back button.


Roxanne T. Almaraz
Marcia E. Backus
Amy L. Baird
Dana O’Brien
Carol Helliker
Jamie Lavergne Bryan
Carol M. Burke
Laura Burney
Chrysta Castañeda
Trina H. Chandler
Brandy Copley
Jolisa Melton Dobbs
Vera 
de Gyarfas
Peggy A. Heeg
Catherine Callaway James
Eleanor “Cacki” Chote Jewart
Christine B. LaFollette
JoAnn Lee
Diana Liebmann
Courtney S. Marcus
Brooke Geren McNabb
Katy Pier Moore
Amanda L. Mussalli
Jayme Partridge
Lara D. Pringle
Susan Richardson
Laura Robertson
Anna G. Rotman
Robin Russell
Jamey Seely
N. Susan Stone

 


2016 PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE


Roxanne T. Almaraz

partner, Bracewell, houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

At the ripe old age of 17, I made the 75-mile trek from my hometown of San Antonio to Austin, where I attended the University of Texas. After graduating from UT with degrees in journalism and corporate communication, I attended Stanford Law School. Upon graduation from Stanford, I served as a federal judicial clerk to the Honorable Barbara M.G. Lynn in the Northern District of Texas. Thereafter, I came to Houston, where I entered BigLaw practice. Although I had the privilege of working on a variety of energy transactional matters as an associate, I quickly gravitated toward M&A. Today, I represent strategic and financial investors alike in complex mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures across the energy space.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Perceptive.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

In the wine business. If high school chemistry was any indication, I probably shouldn’t be the one actually making the wine, but I can certainly see myself on the business side of things. Prior to joining Bracewell, I took some time off to earn my Senior Cellar Manager/Executive Wine Sommelier certification from the International Wine Guild.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Robin Fredrickson. She is razor sharp, well-versed in issues impacting the oil and gas industry and very commercial. Robin is also a fantastic teacher and mentor; once you are a part of her team, her full weight is behind you.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Keep in mind that the energy community is very large in some ways, but very small in others. Always treat your colleagues and counterparties with the same level of thoughtfulness and respect that you would demonstrate toward your own clients.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Take a deep breath and a step back, and consider whether you really have a crisis at all. In the fast-paced, high-stakes environment in which we play, ordinary course issues run the risk of being elevated to “crises” when there is a breakdown of communication or instinctive finger-pointing. Listening both to what is being said and to what is not being said, and being forward-looking rather than dwelling on mistakes of the past, are key to thriving—not just surviving—in a work crisis situation.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

It is of critical importance for both men and women in the energy space to continue the dialogue regarding the moral and business cases for diverse perspectives around the conference room. And executives and other leaders should strive to ensure that their respective organizations are structured as meritocracies.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Thankfully, I don’t have much in the way of sector-related pet peeves, but I suppose it is a bit puzzling when people outside of the energy space assume that energy lawyers support only a narrow set of transactions involving only a narrow set of resources. Nothing could be further from the truth. The deals getting done in the energy sector involve transformative technologies and are among the largest, most complicated and most innovative in the world, regardless of industry.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The opportunity to learn something new every day. The energy sector continues to evolve and it is an absolute privilege to get to participate in this evolution alongside my clients. Take power, for example—10 years ago, I couldn’t have known that half of the matters on my desk in November 2016 would involve renewable generation. Only in this sector can you turn from a negotiation of a pipeline joint venture to the sale of a hydropower facility.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Locally, I love taking a lunch break at Discovery Green or a trip down to Hermann Park to see what’s new at the Houston Zoo. Outside of Houston, a go-to spot is the San Francisco Bay Area. There’s this great outdoor beer garden just a few minutes from Stanford called the Alpine Inn—what with the gently running creek, incredible birdwatching, and perennial sunshine, it may very well be the center of the universe.


Marcia E. Backus

senior vice president, general counsel, occidental petroleum Co., Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I have worked in the energy industry my entire career. Currently senior vice president and general counsel of Occidental Petroleum. Before that, at Vinson & Elkins, in senior management, and as an M&A lawyer. My surprise going in-house is has been how much I like litigation.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Formidable.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

A veterinarian; I love animals.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Rush Record, a legendary energy lawyer. He was phenomenally smart and intellectually curious about everything and a great mentor and teacher to many lawyers, including me.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Be more prepared than the other side. Being smart is not enough, there is no substitute for hard work and preparation.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Focus and remember the big picture.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Tone comes from the top. If every CEO, managing partner or other head of a business would make sure that women get a fair opportunity to show what they can do, real change could happen.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

People who don’t appreciate the benefits energy has brought to the world.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The characters. It is still an industry where characters abound, which make it fun.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Travel. My favorite places are Napa Valley, NYC and France.


Amy L. Baird

partner, Jackson Walker, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I’ve represented clients in the energy industry for 31 years. I handle complex commercial litigation for energy clients, along with commercial contracts, project development and regulatory work. My experience includes work for natural gas gatherers and processors, oil and gas producers, interstate and intrastate natural gas pipelines, natural gas liquids and crude oil pipelines, crude oil storage and terminalling operators, merchant power plants, local distribution companies, municipally-owned gas and power distributors, industrial gas and power end users, and utility regulators.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Pragmatic. If I get two, tough and pragmatic.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

An energy executive, of course.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I can’t narrow that down to one person. There are so many talented lawyers, both in-house and in law firms, that I’ve been privileged to work with over the years—and I’ve learned something from each of them.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

What goes around comes around. That advice was given to me by the former general counsel of FERC, though he said it in a more colorful way not suitable for this publication.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Focus on the end game and keep your cool.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Promotion of more women into leadership and board positions. Studies have demonstrated conclusively that companies with more women in leadership posts perform better.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

It isn’t a peeve, but I am always surprised at the number of energy project developers who are somehow convinced that prices for oil and gas will never change from where they are at that moment, and so do not take that into account in structuring their projects and their service agreements. Price cycles are inevitable—it is how companies prepare themselves for them, and respond, that makes the difference.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The people. The energy industry is concentrated and interrelated, though people move around quite a bit within it. I love getting to know the energy executives and lawyers and keeping up with them as they move from company to company, or from one sector of the industry to another. It’s endlessly interesting to me to watch the industry evolve, and the people in it as well.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Read and cook. Neither is especially exciting, but I enjoy tranquility in my down time!


Dana O’Brien

general counsel, Centerpoint Energy, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I began my career at the Supreme Court of Texas as a clerk to now Chief Justice Nathan Hecht. I then joined Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a corporate associate. I joined Quanta Services Inc. as associate general counsel in 1999 And in 2001 became general counsel and corporate secretary. In late 2005, I joined EGL Inc. as general counsel and corporate secretary, and when EGL merged with CEVA Logistics in 2007, I became chief legal officer and chief compliance officer of CEVA. I joined CenterPoint Energy as general counsel and corporate secretary in May of 2014.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Direct.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

It is hard to imagine what other path I might have followed having been a lawyer for this long but what I enjoy most about my job is creating and leading effective teams so I suspect I would do the same in another function. I could also be a personal shopper!

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

There are many, but I will highlight Janet Langford Carrig because she came from outside the industry to become one of the very top women in energy leadership.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Believe you can.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Remain calm and think.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

As leaders in the energy industry, it is incumbent upon us to identify talented women, develop them and create opportunities for them to be seen by other leaders in the industry.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

It is cyclical, which brings very high highs, but very tough lows.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I appreciate the spirit of the people who work in this industry. Even today there is something different about the energy of the people who work in energy.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

We have a place in the country a couple of hours north of Houston. We like to spend our down time there, with a cup of coffee on the porch swing in the morning, a glass of wine on the porch swing in the evening and days filled with the work and play of country life!


Carol Helliker

senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer, Centerpoint Energy, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I graduated from the University of Texas with a law degree and a master’s of public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs. I worked for five years at Baker Botts law firm as an employment litigation lawyer representing clients in state and federal court. I have worked for CenterPoint Energy for 25 years in various roles such as the employment litigation lawyer, head of litigation and the claims department and now I oversee our ethics and compliance, integrated records and information management and data privacy departments.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Integrity.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

If I was not a lawyer I would work for a nonprofit in education helping low-income students. Education is very important to me and we really need to do something to help low-income students become successful. They are the future of Houston and our country.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I admire my former boss Scott Rozzell. He is very smart, knowledgeable and very interested in helping women succeed. He is a great politician and had a very successful career at Baker Botts and CenterPoint. He helped me a lot in my career.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Trust your gut instincts and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We are all human and make mistakes. Smart people learn from their mistakes.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Remain calm and don’t get too stressed out. There are a lot of bad things that happen to people so you need to keep your perspective—it could be a lot worse.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

We need to focus on getting girls interested at a younger age, before middle school. I saw an article that said boys are encouraged even before the age of six to play with iPhones, etc. and girls are not. If you wait to have programs in high school it is too late to get their interest. We also need to focus on helping girls from low-income families with their education and mentor them since some come from families where girls are not encouraged to seek an advanced education.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

That there are not enough women. Our company like other utilities has a majority of men due to the physical nature of the job. Few women succeed at the top by coming up through the business. Most of the successful women come up through the corporate side.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The culture of our company and the people who work there. Our employees truly embody our company’s core values of safety, integrity, accountability, respect and initiative. We have employees who support each other and are very respectful. It is a great place to work and I am so fortunate to work there.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love to plan trips and take my family. We spent last summer in the Grand Cayman for my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. My whole family went including my husband, three kids, daughter’s boyfriend, sister and her boyfriend, two nieces and their boyfriends, my brother and my parents. A great time was had by all.


Jamie Lavergne Bryan

shareholder, Winstead, 
Fort Worth

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Since starting my legal practice, I have focused on energy related litigation. I grew up in Jefferson County, Texas, surrounded by the oil and gas industry. That upbringing helps me understand the industry and the business needs of our clients. I received a bioenvironmental Sciences degree from Texas A&M University prior to attending law school at the University of Houston, where I took classes focused on various aspects of energy. I use my background as the foundation for the wide-ranging upstream and midstream issues I have focused on for my entire career.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Feisty.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A lobbyist or public relations specialist supporting the energy industry.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I can’t name just one because I have had the pleasure and honor of working with some of the best energy lawyers in the state. Sometimes these lawyers are my partners, clients and co-counsel and other times opposing counsel. I find that the best energy lawyers all have the highest ethics, true professionalism and an in-depth knowledge of the industry.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

I was told early in my career to keep a full toolbox. This means keeping up with legal developments and always learning from those around me. Fortunately, I am surrounded with smart, talented people that I learn from every day.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Focus. And, no matter what, keep a level head.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

We should equally support and encourage the development of young women in science, engineering, math and like subjects from a young age to ensure there is a pipeline of talent for the future. At the office, we should ensure that leadership creates an inclusive culture where everyone is heard, valued and advanced based upon their skills and knowledge rather than conscious or unconscious bias.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Public perception of the energy industry is my biggest pet peeve. Perception, even with no basis in fact or science, is reality for many.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The people are my favorite thing. There is a hard-working entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of the industry that draws dynamic individuals.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Spending time with my family and close friends is my favorite down time activity.


Carol M. Burke

partner, Reed Smith, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

A founding partner in Reed Smith’s Houston office, Carol Burke has more than 30 years’ experience handling complex corporate transactions in the energy industry, including acquisitions, dispositions and financing of billions of dollars in deals in coal, solar, biomass, waste-to-energy, methanol production, chemical, pipelines, refinery and gas storage projects, and all types of midstream oil field services companies, including serving as outside general counsel and adviser to several oil field services companies.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Tenacious.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

A psychologist—all the best lawyers need their skills.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Janet Langford Carrig, the general counsel of Conoco Phillips, because she has risen to the highest level in an energy company while successfully balancing the commitment to her family and a demanding career. She has done so with patience, poise and wisdom, and without sacrificing any of her values or integrity.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Be your most genuine and authentic self, and the clients will appreciate and respond to that person.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Everything is possible, if you break it into manageable pieces.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Encourage leadership in the energy sector to establish diversity and inclusion as a strategic imperative at all levels. This is a core value of our Women’s Initiative Network (WINRS) at Reed Smith, which is a global community of lawyers dedicated to attracting, engaging, developing, and rewarding women lawyers. Also, energy companies should confirm that they hire firms that follow these beliefs, beyond including women lawyers in the pitch materials, by making sure they are project leaders and involved and critical to the entire project. Then, perhaps, tokenism will cease, and real opportunities will begin.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

When I first starting practicing, the men would refer to me as the “little woman.” I’m proud to say that those days are gone, and I really don’t have any pet peeves about the energy sector since, in my experience, both clients and opposing counsel are very respectful without any gender bias.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The entrepreneurial nature of the clients and the value we can add to their business plan as a truly trusted adviser.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love to travel and try to combine that with my second love, which is playing golf, as often as possible.


Laura Burney

research professor of law, St. Mary’s University School of Law, San Antonio

Because my career took a path I had not planned, I always tell younger lawyers and my law students to expect—and accept—unexpected diversions. For me, I had planned to focus on appellate work after graduation from law school but ten months later received a call from the then dean of St. Mary’s Law School. A property law professor had taken ill and he hired me to take his place on a part-time basis. The timing of that call coincided with concerns about child care and work/life balance with my oldest child, who was born ten days before graduation. Eventually, I accepted a tenure-track position, and received tenure by focusing my writing and work on oil and gas law. Some of my articles led to my involvement in cases that have affected Texas oil and gas law, particularly on deed and lease interpretation issues. In 2004 I left academia for private practice. But in 2010 I received another phone call from St. Mary’s, (yes, another professor had taken ill) and returned to the full-time faculty but I continue to work as a mediator, expert and advocate in oil and gas law disputes. My practical experience has made me a better professor and my academic experience improved my skills as a practitioner. As an oil and gas lawyer, I have been honored to work with some of the very best lawyers in Texas and other states. Whether we are on the same or opposing sides, our practice area boasts impressive professionals. Although I could name several, one energy lawyer I particularly admire is Becky Miller, a former partner and now of counsel with Scott Douglass. Becky cross-examined me when I was an expert, opposed me and joined me in cases, and served with me on a panel in an arbitration that lasted for years. I can tell you I’d rather be with her than against her. I was not surprised when the University of Texas hired Becky to teach oil and gas law. No matter what the role, Becky was always a teacher. She knew the law, and the facts, better than anyone in the matter and could teach it to the lawyers and the judges. When I tell my students that one of the best lawyers I know always reminded us all to “break it down” and “make it clear and thorough” I am thinking about Becky Miller. Having named Becky as one of the energy lawyers I most admire brings me to another question you posed to us: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap? First, I would note that another impressive fact about our area of law is the number of women I have encountered in cases, academia, and through my long involvement with the Texas Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section and other national energy groups. That said, all law firms and companies should continue to tackle pay gap disparities and provide opportunities for all lawyers to achieve work/life balance.


Chrysta Castañeda

partner, The Castañeda Firm, Dallas

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I have an undergraduate degree in engineering and a background in oil and gas prior to entering law school. I have been a trial lawyer for 25 years, and for the past 15 years have focused on upstream energy litigation. I represent both operators and nonoperators in upstream disputes. I have also served as general counsel for my clients.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Tenacious.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

An engineer.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

My former partners Mike Powell and Rob Beatty are two of the best lawyers I know. They know the subject matter so well and I have learned almost all I know from them.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Read the statutes. Read the contracts. Keep showing up because this is a marathon, not a sprint.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?


Persevere. It will all work out.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Obviously, people in a position to hire in this sector need to hire women at every opportunity. The challenge comes in taking the risk to hire women as the lead lawyers, not just as junior members of a team.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

The booms and busts of the business thin out the ranks of knowledgeable attorneys practicing in this area, just as they do the ranks of geologists, engineers and landmen.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Working with the technical experts. I always learn something new.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Run and watch movies. I love to travel with my family to other countries.


Trina H. Chandler

partner, Vinson & Elkins, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

My law practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and finance, representing clients such as Riverstone, Wayzata, Avenue Capital and Quantum Energy. My work is focused primarily in power, midstream, downstream and marketing and trading. I began my career at Vinson & Elkins in 1993, after graduating from The University of Texas, with a B.B.A in finance with honors, and from UT Law with honors in 1992. I was admitted to V&E’s partnership in 2002. I currently serve as a member of V&E’s Management Committee, the co-head of our Energy Industry Group, chair of our firm-wide Women’s Initiative, and I am a member of the firm’s Sharing Ratio Committee. I strongly believe that women need a voice at the table in law firm management and I am honored to serve in these roles.

What is one word people use to describe you?

I would say, “positive.” I am generally upbeat and optimistic and try to bring positive energy to the office and our interactions with clients. It helps when you love what you do and work with some really amazing and supportive people.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

Probably in finance or investment banking … or, hmmm, maybe an architect?

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I truly admire Joe Dilg, V&E’s former managing partner. As a young lawyer, he was always someone I looked up to as extremely knowledgeable in the industry, and he helped me build my practice. As busy as he was in his various leadership roles at V&E, he always took the time to mentor younger lawyers across the firm in their careers, especially women and diverse attorneys. He is so intelligent and insightful, and an accomplished lawyer, but he also has a diplomatic style, quiet confidence and warmth about him that just doesn’t compare.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

To carve my own path, and be willing to work hard to get where you want to be. Life and careers aren’t always straight paths with smooth surfaces, so being flexible and resilient is a must.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Stay calm and focused, remain positive and maintain your sense of humor. That’s actually four things, but I think they go hand-in-hand in maintaining a productive attitude in a high-pressure environment. I think my ability to stay calm and positive has helped me to build a reputation as someone who looks for a workable solution versus someone who feeds into the challenges of the moment.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

The energy industry is not unlike most others where women often have to work a little harder to prove themselves, but I think there are a lot of opportunities for women in the energy industry and great examples of success in Houston, and among my fellow awardees. You can see there are many extremely accomplished women being honored on this list, and the group represents just the legal sector within the energy industry. I truly believe that any woman who wants to succeed and works hard—can. Women helping women succeed along the way will definitely help to open more opportunities. However, women don’t just need other women as champions, we need successful male allies and sponsors as well to open the right doors, leverage their influence for opportunities, raise women’s profiles and to provide the recognition when it’s earned.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Hearing the talk in the media and in other circles that the energy industry is not welcoming to women is frustrating at times and I certainly hope the hype doesn’t discourage women from getting into the energy industry—in whatever path they choose to follow.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I really love the work I do in the energy space and the close relationships I have developed with clients. I’m excited every day to be able to solve their legal problems and be a trusted adviser on complex energy transactions. That definitely gets me up every morning (and, for better or worse, often keeps me up late at night). I’m also passionate about being in a position to help champion for the success of other women in our firm and mentor our younger associates. We have a managing partner [Scott Wulfe] with whom I work closely on women’s retention and success issues, and I’m grateful that he and our firm leadership want to work together to make an impact.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Somewhere sunny and warm—I am definitely a beach person! And of course, having my family with me is even better. I am grateful to have a very supportive husband and my two kids—Brenton, 19, and Ashley, 15—who keep me grounded. My family brings me an incredible amount of joy, and I am thankful for them every day, no matter where I am!


Brandy Copley

managing director and counsel, GE Energy Financial Services, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

My grandfather was an attorney, and he inspired me to select this career path. I’m a native Houstonian, and I attended law school at the University of Texas and Queen Mary in London. I spent several years at large law firms before coming in house. I have been with GE Energy Financial Services for 5½ years. I represent GE in equity investments, M&A and project financings for energy assets in the upstream and midstream sectors in the U.S. and Latin America. I serve on GE’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and I regularly volunteer my time as pro bono counsel to many causes, with a focus in recent years on representing foster children in the custody of Child Protective Services.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Energetic.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

I would be working somewhere in the developing world for a nonprofit helping women-owned small businesses, providing them with micro-lending services and business plans.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

My dear friend and inspiration Karyl McCurdy Lawson, for reminding me that there is a vibrant community of women in the energy space, and that by supporting other women we all succeed.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

You don’t lead by giving orders or making grand pronouncements from high up the org chart. You earn respect and loyalty by getting shoulder to shoulder with your team, working as long and hard as anyone else.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Take care of your body. No matter how tough the crisis, or how long the hours, you still need to breath, exercise, eat and rest.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Sponsorship. Women need to hire women, train women, support women, promote women, speak up for women and pay women equally or better when that’s deserved. We need to be as overt and transparent about this as possible. And we need to ask the men in our field who care about the gender gap to do the same.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

The high mortality rate of our possible projects. We look at so many great deals, but some of them just aren’t going to come to fruition for one reason or another. You can’t fall in love with all your projects. You have to maintain rationality and perspective on what’s really a smart deal, versus one you feel invested in simply because you’ve spent so much time on it.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The level of intellectual engagement. I have the privilege of working with brilliant people on complex issues and projects that power our world.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love adventure travel. Just last month I was hiking in the Sichuan province of China with my 11-year-old son. Earlier this year I went rock climbing at Joshua Tree, and swimming with rays and sharks in the Galapagos. Our beautiful world is begging to be enjoyed and explored.


Jolisa Melton Dobbs

partner, Thompson & Knight, Dallas

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

My interest in accounting and law ignited in the sixth grade. I followed that path. Upon earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Oklahoma, I jumped into the workforce as an internal auditor for Exxon (focusing on domestic refining operations). With some experience under my belt, I returned to law school at the University of Oklahoma with a continued energy focus. The analytical skills I utilized as an auditor enhance my ability to deliver results in the complex transactions I face on a daily basis.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Balanced.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

Quantum/nuclear physicist. Strange, right?!? The movie Tron inspired me as a child. I was determined to invent a teleportation device and pursued anything involving lasers. The work I showcased in my high school science fair earned my spot as Oklahoma’s representative for a summer internship at the FermiLab (a proton acceleration lab). It was a fun summer, but I decided to pursue accounting. My love for science remains, but now I live vicariously through my three sons.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I have many role models. Fabené Welch, senior vice president and general with EnerVest, and Brandy Copley, managing director and counsel with GE, are two of them. They are smart, driven and successful. In addition, they truly embody support for women in the industry by providing opportunities for inclusion.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

My father always told me, “They can chew you but they can’t eat you.” I follow this guidance on resilience. My parents are self-made and knew what it took to succeed. In addition to brilliance, they possessed grit and determination. They passed these values on to me. I am trying to pass this down to my kids as well. Hard work is what delivers your value across the finish line. After a setback, you should pick yourself up and march on. Do not quit.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Breathe, take a step back, assess the situation and find your options.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Clients and leaders taking concrete actions to ensure that opportunities are available to women on any project is the real answer. I have seen it in action, and having a cheerleader within an organization is effective.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Individuals who feel you have to love or hate the energy industry based on environmental concerns. This is not a binary issue. The extractive industries are also concerned about our planet’s future. There is a balance.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

My clients are awesome. I consider industry players to be more like sophisticated gamblers. They are approachable, down-to-earth, caring, extremely intelligent and risk-taking —exactly the type of person you want to interact with on a daily basis. I am blessed.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I recharge my batteries through family time. My husband and I have three sons, ages 5 through 12. Life is chaotic but grand. We all love visits to Disney World and Legoland. We also enjoy a great card game or board game during family game night.


Vera 
de Gyarfas

partner, King & Spalding, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I began my career in Venezuela as a corporate lawyer. I was a partner at Travieso Evans Arria Rengel & Paz, a very traditional and well-ranked Venezuelan law firm. During the 1990s oil and gas opening, an American senior partner, Tom Hughes, asked me to participate in a meeting with Petrobras so I was introduced to oil and gas projects at a time when many major international oil companies decided to invest in Venezuela, partnering with PDVSA (the national oil company). I worked with majors like Exxon Mobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips, Statoil, and independents like Anadarko, Maurel & Prom and Lasmo, oil service providers like Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Cameron, Toyo Engineering, Foster Wheeler and many others. From then on, I focused on energy infrastructure projects ranging from upstream oil and gas to downstream projects involving petrochemicals and lubricants. When I came to Houston in 2011 to join King & Spalding, I focused mainly on LNG projects, both export and regas import projects in Latin America and Africa, where my language skills and civil law background was very useful. The contacts made during my years in Venezuela proved very valuable and the expertise in working in major investments in energy allow me to continue to provide valuable advice today.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Trustworthy.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

A diplomat.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Harry Sullivan. Harry is not only an excellent energy lawyer who has negotiated numerous contracts around the globe, mostly with ConocoPhillips and now with Kosmos, but he has also dedicated his life to teach and educate others through the AIPN and various universities. I admire his vocation to transmit his knowledge to others, including advising countries on energy issues which could have an impact on their development.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Understand the business! Learn what is involved in each project and make sure that you understand the processes, the equipment, the cost, the triggers, the stakeholders’ goals, so that your legal advice will add value to the business.

It really is all about the business.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Make lists of priorities to ensure that, given the crisis, the main issues are addressed. After making the lists, breathe and relax (which sometimes is totally impossible) then work until everything is ready. Finally, after the crisis, take time out to recharge and be ready for the next crisis.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

I think one of the main concepts that will allow a reduction in the gender gap in the energy industry is mentorship. Of course, first you need women to be interested in the business, girls to follow STEM careers so that there are more women engineers, geologists, chemists, accountants, and even attorneys. But most of all women need mentors to help them navigate the obstacles and accompany them, generate career plans, development techniques and advise them on life/work balance and other mechanisms that will allow women to reach the highest positions. This is especially relevant in the childbearing years, when many women question whether the personal sacrifices involved are worth it. Mentors and flexible schedules will make the difference.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

I become annoyed when people question the benefits of certain energy projects and the practices of energy companies, given the environmental implications without knowing the facts.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I love that energy projects have a direct impact on people’s lives. For example, working on the Mozambique LNG project has been an extraordinary professional challenge but knowing that the project will also have a great impact on the lives of the people of Mozambique—transforming the country from one that depends on donations to cover its annual budget to a self-sufficient developing country, which has the potential to become the third LNG producer in the world, is what makes this type of work wonderful. All the long hours and sacrifices make sense because there is a higher purpose.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love hiking mountains and walking/relaxing at the beach. Next year my husband and I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago from Porto, Portugal, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, combining our favorite pastimes, because the path is right next to the coast of Portugal and Spain. I also love practicing yoga, which is much easier and accessible when I am not close to a mountain or beach.


Peggy A. Heeg

partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

My career path has been atypical, but I believe the breadth of my experiences has made me a better lawyer. After I graduated from law school, I became an adviser to a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. After leaving the FERC, I had a 15-year career in the legal department of the El Paso Corp., and ultimately became the GC of El Paso. I then decided that I wanted a new challenge, one that has taken me to where I am now. I am a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright and represent energy companies across a wide range of complex regulatory and governance matters.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Practical.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A yoga teacher.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Cathy Lamboley, the former general counsel of Shell Oil, single-handedly changed the dialogue and career paths of female and minority lawyers. She is a tremendous lawyer and someone whom I admire greatly. By requiring Shell law firms to track and report on the hours billed by female and minority associates and partners, Cathy forced law firms to focus on diversity and inclusion within law firms. Cathy’s commitment to inclusiveness continues today through her board service and her work with the University of Texas Center for Women in Law and the American Bar Association.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

The most valuable advice I have received is to understand your client’s business, always provide quality client service, continue to learn and evolve as a lawyer, make your client look good, be pleasant and don’t be risk-averse. Sometimes risks lead to some of your greatest accomplishments.


What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

There is nothing more rewarding than helping a client work through a crisis. The key to effectively managing a crisis is to remain calm, breathe and surround yourself with the best minds. It’s imperative to think through the implications of the decisions that must be made and to stay one step ahead of the crisis.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Energy companies must proactively compete for and develop women employees. Women make up a majority of college graduates and approximately 25 percent of all graduating engineers, geoscientists and environmental scientists. CEOs and other company leaders must understand the business imperative of winning the talent war, invest the time and resources necessary to eliminate unconscious bias and drive the promotion of women throughout the organization.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

None.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The people I work with, both clients and my colleagues within the firm. I get to work with smart people from different backgrounds on interesting matters. This makes it fun to go to work every day.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

One of the high prices of being a lawyer is the time that must be devoted to our colleagues and clients. When I have time away from work, there is nothing I love more than spending time with my friends and family.


Catherine Callaway James

executive vice president, general counsel and chief compliance officer, Dynegy, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I grew up in Houston and then went to Smith College. I loved the East Coast and spent a year in New York City after college working first as a paralegal and then as a bicycle messenger. Deciding that bicycle messengering wasn’t a long-term career option, I moved back to Texas and went to the University of Texas for law school. My first job after law school was at Chevron, where I was a lawyer for the domestic downstream division and handled matters relating to Chevron’s refineries and service stations. I left Chevron after five years, and for the past 20 years have worked for companies in the independent power sector. My first job in the power sector was at Coastal Power, where I handled legal issues related to international power project development in Asia and Latin America. I have subsequently been involved in all aspects of the wholesale and retail power sector while working at Reliant Energy, Calpine, NRG Energy and Dynegy.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Adventurous. I am energized by new challenges and enjoy high-pressure, high-stakes situations. A job that involves a lot of routine work is not for me.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

Living someplace exotic and working only as necessary to finance my travel and volunteer work to save endangered species.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

A group of women who I worked with at Chevron in the early 1990s—Jeanne Suminski, Dona Szak, Susie Adams, Maggie McKay and Pat Suttle. They were smart, hard-working lawyers who had to contend with a male-dominated law department, company and industry. From them, I learned the importance of working with people that you like and respect. They supported each other and made a challenging situation enjoyable.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

That I needed to advocate for myself, create my own opportunities for success and actively manage my career.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

I try to see view even the most challenging situations as opportunities and move forward to solve the problem rather than looking back to assign blame. I also find that having a sense of humor and keeping things in perspective is very helpful.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

As chief compliance officer of Dynegy, I spend time at plants exploring how to improve our culture. My message, which also answers this question, is that despite our differences, we will be most successful by valuing our unique perspectives and treating each other with dignity, courtesy and respect.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

People who have strong opinions about why various aspects of the industry are “bad” without having any real understanding of the underlying issues. It’s easy to say that solar and wind power are “good,” and fossil power is “bad,” but I don’t think that many people would be happy to go without lights when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

It is never boring!

I have done many interesting things over the past 25 years—from selling a petrochemical refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to developing the first independent power project in Bangladesh to complicated and contentious Chapter 11 restructurings. I’ve handled matters involving finance, project development, mergers and acquisitions, environmental issues, litigation, corporate, bankruptcy, real estate, regulatory and more. I learn something new almost every day.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I spend as much time as I can in Deer Valley, Utah—hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.


Eleanor “Cacki” Chote Jewart

partner, Husch Blackwell, Austin

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I’ve been practicing transactional law for 16 years and have spent the last 5-7 years in renewable energy development and real estate. Three years ago, my firm merged into Husch Blackwell, which has a great energy practice, so we’ve been able to grow that work in Texas and throughout the U.S. Now, my practice consists primarily of energy-related transactions, with an emphasis on renewables. I currently am working on wind and solar transactions in Texas, Missouri and Kansas.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Fair, and if I could have two words, dedicated.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A chef.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

This is a hard question since there are so many great lawyers in this industry, and the renewables world is small. That said, Lacey Breeden, a regulatory attorney at HB, does an amazing job of explaining complex regulatory issues to clients, focusing on client’s needs, and responding quickly as part of the deal team.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Think like a client—consider what their ultimate goal is and be creative to help them get there.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

No. 1: Don’t panic! No. 2: Keep plugging away at it from different angles.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

A couple of thoughts on this for those at the top:

• Mentor the women working with you or alongside you

• Promote team work in your organization, which is great for everyone, and can really benefit women

• Hire women—at UT, I understand there is now a policy that for open positions, there must be diverse candidates. There’s no “quota” or requirement to hire them, but they are at least in the room for an interview and have a shot.

For women in the industry:

• Join energy organizations and participate—seek a leadership role there

• Speak up in meetings

• Look for the big picture and how to get to “yes”

• Seize every good opportunity offered, even if you don’t feel ready

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

People saying no without offering a solution.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I love the growth and change, especially in the renewables area. There’s so much opportunity, and an air of excitement, not to mention that we are doing something good for the environment.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

What down time?! . . . Okay, well, when I do have down time, I love hanging out with my family pretty much anywhere. Next year, I’ll spend time taking my older daughter to visit colleges.


Christine B. LaFollette

partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I was raised in South Texas by parents who were schoolteachers. They inspired me to continue in this direction and, upon graduating from the University of Texas, I proceeded to become a junior high school teacher. Despite my joy of working with motivated students, I realized I needed a new career. Law is a wonderful profession that allows me to meet and work with incredible individuals and companies. I enjoy the opportunity to be a team member with my clients and help them execute their business strategies and complex transaction as well as brainstorm and solve challenges that arise. I truly can say I love being a lawyer and like coming to work; retirement just isn’t in my DNA.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Well hard to say one word but hopefully passionate, loyal, committed and the “one” they can always count on. I can think of a lot of words I never want used to describe me!

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A doctor because I truly enjoy helping people. As a business lawyer, I do feel I contribute to the well-being of individuals and support our economy with a vital life resource. However, it would be a privilege to help save lives. I highly respect the medical profession.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

My colleague Mike Byrd is by the far the best energy lawyer I have had the pleasure to work with and know. He is not only an expert in the field with incredible experience, he also represents all the core values (collegiality, commitment, excellence, integrity and intensity) that deems one a leader. Mike also has the unique background of being a land man before he went to law school, and I always like to introduce him as the “real dirt lawyer.” Too many folks have never left their office, been in the field or even been on a rig. Mike has been there and done that, so he will always make sure every legal document is right. Clients and parties on the other side always want Mike in the deal for his level head and outstanding skills.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Robert Strauss told us to take our work seriously but not ourselves. Accordingly, excellence and commitment are part of my profession, but I hope to always keep in mind humility and respect.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Just breathe and remember no one is dying or going to jail … at that moment.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

It’s important to understand that women are just as educated, committed and determined as the “good ol’ boys.” Women don’t want special favors, only a fair chance. Solving challenging problems in the energy industry takes hard work by everyone, and diversity brings different perspectives that lead to innovative solutions.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

That you don’t see pink hard hats! Just kidding, kind of. The energy sector is challenged by the factors beyond our control and hard work. The price of the commodity, economic factors, political matters and world events drive the volatility.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I love the people in the energy sector. They are hardworking folks who have made it and lost it! They believe in what they do and get back up whenever the world (or the price of oil) knocks them down. They live in a 24/7 world where actions can create new advanced technologies and inactions can cause disastrous blow outs. However, I do believe folks really care and in my experience realize the significance of energy in our world balance. The energy industry isn’t simply an exciting and dynamic space—it is literally the backbone of our world.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

During college football season, I want to watch the Texas Longhorns in Austin! We have raised two longhorns of course named Earl and Major, so you might say we bleed orange. However, I do greatly value my time with family and friends. Most importantly though my compass gets reset and my soul calmed when I can remember to say my prayers each day and attend church on the weekend.


JoAnn Lee

assistant general counsel, Exxon Mobil, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I began my career in 1983 as a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and spent seven years trying all types of criminal cases including capital murder, robbery, drug and white-collar crime cases. I then spent nine years with Union Pacific Railroad Co. as a trial attorney before joining Exxon Mobil. Since joining Exxon Mobil I have held several positions including trial attorney; coordinator, tort, commercial, employment and environmental dockets; chief attorney, labor and employment; chief attorney, commercial group Exxon Mobil Chemical Company; and my current position, assistant general counsel, litigation.

What is one word people use to describe you?

The word I think people would use is “candid.” However, I hope they would also add “without being cruel.” I believe that delivering tough truths are the hardest part of being a lawyer and also of being a leader. But saying what you mean, and meaning what you say, need not be done in a destructive manner.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

I would be a teacher. I greatly enjoy the facets of my practice that involve educating and mentoring. Certainly good skills in those areas would translate well in the classroom. Moreover, I respect and admire what teachers do and the impact they have on the future of our country. Like the practice of Law, teaching is a noble and rewarding profession.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I have great admiration for Jack Balagia, former general counsel, Exxon Mobil. Jack spent his career representing ExxonMobil and litigating oil and gas issues. He is a charismatic and compassionate leader with deep legal knowledge and unparalleled understanding of the industry and our client’s business. He is also a leading supporter of pro bono legal representation and fostered a strong culture of service at Exxon Mobil. Jack has long been a champion of diversity and a mentor to so many.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

I was advised early in my career that in order to really add value I must understand my client’s business and creatively problem-solve rather than merely answer inquiries in a rote manner or advise what can’t be done.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Remain calm. Good decisions are not borne out of panic. Every crisis has a solution and it is the person capable of remaining calm during the storm that will most effectively manage the crisis and develop a plan to address the problems presented.

In 50 words or less: What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

It is critical to expose girls to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) early and ensure they have access to and mentoring by women in energy. It is also important that women leaders commit their time and resources to mentor, sponsor and promote talented young women and each other.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

It is difficult to make those outside the industry fully understand what we do and the care with which we do it. Those of us working in this sector are real people with the same concerns as others. A large part of the success of any business is the well-being of its people and the communities in which they reside.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

We are in a time of change and transition where complex energy issues are in the forefront of society’s concerns. As a result, we have an opportunity to handle exciting and timely issues that will positively impact the lives of people around the world.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I enjoy travel and spending time with my family. True bliss is combining those two things. My favorite place to visit is Cape Town.


Diana Liebmann

partner, Haynes and Boone, San Antonio

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I knew I wanted to be an electric regulatory and transactional lawyer before I graduated from college. It was the early 1990s and the electric power markets were just starting to open up. I was a legislative aide and worked on wholesale power deregulation legislation. After I graduated from college Texas was still restructuring the wholesale power market and had begun retail market restructuring. I knew I wanted to work to further develop these markets both as a regulatory lawyer and as a transactional lawyer. To be effective as a regulatory lawyer, an understanding of the commercial markets is key. At the same time, to be an effective transactional lawyer, an understanding of the regulatory framework, including anticipating changes to regulation, is critical. The interplay of both of these areas provides opportunities for clients to achieve efficiencies in the market, and it is exciting to assist them in achieving their objectives. I have enjoyed working with great clients and lawyers in this area dealing with complex market and regulatory matters.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Dedicated.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A National Park ranger.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I admire Buddy Clark (leader of the Energy Practice Group at Haynes and Boone) because he has been a mentor to me and is a leader in the energy community. He is well-respected by his colleagues, peers and clients. Besides all of that, who wouldn’t admire a person who takes the time to write a book about the history of the American oil industry to help educate future leaders in our industry?

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Understand your clients’ business, their position in the market, and look for opportunities to advance their interests. Having a successful career is not really about you—it is about the things you can do together with your clients.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Always keep calm in the knowledge that a crisis is a problem that needs to be solved, like any other, only potentially on a shorter timeline.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

The worldwide energy gender gap stems from the worldwide gender education gap. Education is the key to closing the gap. Daughters need to be educated in the same manner as sons. When that happens, the dynamic nature of the energy industry will attract women just as it attracts men.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Many people don’t understand that we should have a holistic approach to solving our energy needs. A diverse portfolio of fuel sources to provide power is key. That includes a mix of nuclear, coal, wind, solar, natural gas, storage, biomass and fuel sources not yet developed. It includes both utility-scale generation, distributed generation and loads providing demand response. Dependence on one or two fuel sources of generation increases risk. That risk can relate to the lack of availability of fuel, the increased cost of using generation dependent on that fuel (including construction of transmission to bring that particular type of generation to market), or to technical and weather risks (i.e., gas-fired generation freezing in winter, or solar generation being unavailable on a cloudy day). Electricity is a key building block in the economy, and the greater the diversity of the generation asset portfolio, the more efficiently and cost-effectively power can be delivered.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The people who work together to complete projects in the spirit of serving others.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Hiking in national parks.


Courtney S. Marcus

partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, Dallas

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I started my legal career as a real estate attorney until I discovered the world of finance law and realized I’m a deal junkie. The last 16 years my practice has been focused primarily on LBO and strategic acquisition financing, corporate working capital facilities and loan restructurings and workouts.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Calm-under-pressure. (Is that one word when hyphenated?)

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

I’ve always said I’d be a high school calculus teacher. (I was a math nerd through high school and college.) But, I’d really have a hard time choosing. I’m incredibly passionate about the arts and education. I believe we all have an obligation to make a positive impact in our community however that may be defined. I’m also an idealist and believe in doing my part to leave the world in a condition better than when I arrived. I guess that means I could be anything from a social worker to an educator, or an artist to a politician. I also think I’d make a pretty good spy.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Be passionate about what you do. The movement of the financial markets is fascinating and I enjoy the art of negotiation. At the end of the day I’m in the business of business, so keeping perspective on the big picture and the goals of the constituents is the most important thing.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Practicing law is a team sport. It takes a strong bench of well-trained and incredibly talented attorneys to address the often novel and certainly complex legal issues that our clients depend upon us for. At Weil we come to the table prepared to provide impeccable legal counsel on sophisticated matters by assimilating the necessary expertise on demand. Which means the only work crisis is the one we haven’t heard about yet.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Women need to be willing to put on a pair of boots and get dirty. Men need to give them the opportunity. I’ve found I can tell a lot about how a relationship is going to proceed based upon the respect a man shows for his wife/partner and whether or not he has daughters.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I like that the energy sector is such an integral part of the Texas economy and culture. It’s an interesting mix of the science of exploration and production, the history of land transfer and title and the wildcatter spirit that’s still required despite the advances of technology. It’s also an industry that is truly foreign to folks living in a lot of other places.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love the outdoors. I grew up in San Antonio and spent a lot of time hunting in South Texas, fishing on the Gulf Coast and water skiing at Medina Lake. These days my outdoor time is mostly spent at t-ball games or chasing my son around the neighborhood.


Brooke Geren McNabb

partner, Baker Botts, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

In the energy sector, I represent power, upstream, petrochemical and other energy companies in commercial and serious personal injury cases. I grew up in San Antonio, graduated from the Plan II Honors Program at The University of Texas at Austin in 2000, and then received my law degree from The University of Texas School of Law in 2004. I serve as the general counsel for Communities in Schools Houston, and I also represent Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. I have been active with the Houston Association of Women Attorneys, an organization devoted to promoting women and the interests of women in Houston’s legal community, since 2012 and am currently a trustee of the Houston Association of Women Attorneys Foundation, a group dedicated to providing scholarships to outstanding women law students from Houston’s three law schools.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Thoughtful.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

In my dream world, I would be a country singer or The Next Food Network Star. In the real world, I would probably be a doctor. I was planning to go to medical school until my junior year in college, when I decided that law school was a better fit for me.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Dana O’Brien, general counsel and corporate secretary at CenterPoint Energy. Dana is a role model for women in law. Not only has she proven herself to be a skilled and talented lawyer and leader who has achieved a number of firsts, but she is also committed to making a difference in the community, as shown not only by her own personal pro bono and community involvement, but also by her team’s extensive involvement in pro bono activities.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Go after the opportunities you want, even if you don’t think you are ready for them.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Communicate with others on your team about the issue and carefully analyze the potential responses with your team before taking any action.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

I think it is a combination of things: 1. companies need to make hiring and retaining women a priority and have women in key leadership positions; 2. we need to recognize and address unconscious biases; and 3. both men and women in the industry need to mentor and champion women.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

While progress has been made and the numbers have increased, we still need more women working in the energy sector.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Getting to work with a wide variety of energy companies and people within those companies on a broad range of disputes.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love cooking at home with my husband, Jeff. We also enjoy traveling and have a particular love for Hawaii, where we got married.


Katy Pier Moore

partner, Santoyo Moore Wehmeyer, San Antonio

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I graduated from The University of Texas School of Law in 2006 and started working in the energy department of then-Cox Smith Matthews Incorporated in San Antonio. In 2015, my two partners, Paul Santoyo and Corey Wehmeyer, and I formed the energy-focused firm of Santoyo Moore Wehmeyer P.C. My practice is almost entirely energy transactional work; I also enjoy working closely with my firm’s robust energy litigation practice.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Determined.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

I have no idea! My dream job is to work in a national park.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Professor Jacqueline Weaver, whom I have not met, but my copy of her treatise with Professor Ernest Smith, Texas Law of Oil and Gas, is well-worn and well-read.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

To work outside my comfort zone. My natural tendency is stay well within my comfort zone. I am very fortunate that my first boss insisted—often and for years—that I take on projects that were completely new to me. I would not enjoy my practice today nearly as much had I not had that experience.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Solve one problem, then the next, then repeat.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

I can only tell you what made a difference in my career: to have had a group of people take an active and sustained interest in my career and professional wellbeing. If retaining women in the workplace is important to you, I think the single most immediate thing you can do is lend your time and talent to a woman in your field of expertise.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

It’s not a pet peeve, but it can be sobering to work in an industry so tied to commodities prices.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

From clients to opposing counsel, the atmosphere is generally very collegial and welcoming.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Spend time with my husband and two children, ages 3 years and 6 months.


Amanda L. Mussalli

partner, The Mussalli Law Firm, The Woodlands

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I am a 1995 graduate of St. John’s University School of Law in New York, where I was a member of the Law Review and participated in several trial advocacy competitions. I began my law career with a boutique Park Avenue firm where I worked as a civil litigator on a variety of cases ranging from coop/condominium disputes to contentious probate and matrimonial matters. In 1998, I relocated to The Woodlands, Texas, and my practice areas shifted to the construction and energy sector. While working with the law firm of Cokinos, Bosien & Young I had the unique opportunity to work exclusively for a valued client of the firm, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. I worked in that capacity, negotiating purchase orders, EPC, EPCM and CM contracts with owners and contractors as well as other contractual agreements with a variety of subcontractors and material suppliers. In 2007, my husband and I launched our own firm in The Woodlands and I began handling the firm’s transactional matters for a variety of companies, many in the energy industry. Not long thereafter, I had the privilege of the opportunity to represent a rapidly growing top-tier power company, MP2 Energy. Since 2009, I have represented MP2 Energy in all aspects of its business.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Dedicated.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

Travel journalist.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Never underestimate your adversary and never be afraid to admit you don’t know an answer—then find it and understand everything about it.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

One step at a time.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Internships and general awareness as to the existence of positions for young women of an age to consider a position, legal or otherwise, within this sector would seem to be the most effective way to harness the talent of a new generation of women.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Things are constantly changing within the retail power markets.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Things are constantly changing within the retail power markets.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Travel. Favorite place—the British Virgin Islands.


Jayme Partridge

partner, Patterson + Sheridan, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I received a degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M and worked as an engineer for Exxon Mobil for six years until I went to law school. I was licensed as a petroleum engineer. I went to law school at The University of Texas. I have practiced law since 1991. I am currently a partner at Patterson + Sheridan, an intellectual property boutique. I was formerly a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright. I practice intellectual property litigation with a specialty in energy.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Fierce.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

Fashion designer.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Dan McClure, partner at NRF. He is a very brilliant attorney and is also very kind and generous.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

The golden rule or law of reciprocity: treat others as you wish to be treated.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

I always try to remember that I have been able to figure things out in the past and so I will be able to do so now. And, a lot of deep breaths!

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

I believe the best way to tackle the energy world gender gap is to start educating girls when they are young about the different professions and positions available within the energy industry, as well as some of the exciting opportunities available in the industry. I also believe it is important to ensure early on that girls are given the confidence and skills necessary to work in the energy industry (or any industry for that matter).

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

I started in the energy industry in 1982 and have witnessed some of the highest highs and the lowest lows of the industry. If I had my preference, it would be a little less cyclical.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I love the people. They are very smart. They have a lot of common sense. And, they are straight shooters.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love to work out at my gym.


Lara D. Pringle

partner, Jones Walker, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Her practice focuses on the areas of business litigation, pipeline disputes, energy litigation, complex and multi-district litigation, products liability, and large scale offshore energy contract disputes. Ms. Pringle represents clients in a variety of litigation involving commercial disputes, including oil and gas indemnity agreements, breach of contract cases, leasing disputes and maritime personal injury claims. Ms. Pringle has handled energy condemnation proceedings for pipeline companies. She has represented large oil and gas industry clients in matters involving industrial accidents, contractual disputes and environmental contamination claims. Ms. Pringle is a 2006 graduate of Baylor Law School, where she received her juris doctor degree, cum laude, and served as executive editor of the Baylor Law Review and was a member of the Moot Court team. Ms. Pringle received her bachelor of business administration in finance, cum laude, from Texas A&M University in 2003. At Texas A&M, she was a member of the Business Fellows Program, open to the top one percent of students in the Mays Business School. She started her legal career at Norton Rose Fulbright.

What is one word people use to describe you?

I think most people would immediately answer “Aggie” to that question. Without hesitation.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

I have always wanted to work at Texas A&M University in some capacity. I think it would be interesting to work for the university’s development foundation.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

I really think highly of my Jones Walker colleague Krystal Scott. I am constantly amazed at how she expertly juggles her family of five as well as a significant workload. I admire her integrity, her willingness to think outside of the box and her commitment to her clients.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Don’t just hear. Listen.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Breathe. It’s easy to be swept up in the chaos of a crisis, especially when a client is in need of immediate answers. It’s my job to remain calm, present the facts, propose a solution and remind them why they chose my firm as their counsel in the first place.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

We’ve come a long way, but we still need to continue challenging the incorrect inference that this industry is a man’s world. One way to tackle that is by instilling confidence in younger women.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

It seems like case law is ever-evolving. It’s extremely important to make sure we know exactly what the law states, but it takes time and research to stay informed, especially with projects that cross jurisdictional boundaries.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

I love that my job is never the same. I never have to worry about being bored or unchallenged. Each day presents something new and I truly enjoy working with other members of my firm to provide the best legal representation possible.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I enjoy heading to College Station for Texas A&M sporting events, spending time with my family, having dinner with friends and watching way too many shows on Netflix to admit.


Susan Richardson

partner (retired), Cotton Bledsoe Tighe & Dawson, Midland

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Having come from three generations of family members who worked in the oil patch, the industry was in my blood. However, it took a long time for me to come to the conclusion that oil and gas litigation was my calling. My undergraduate degree was in English/history with a minor in education. I didn’t want to teach at the high school level but I didn’t have the money to pursue a graduate degree so I took the first job I could find—working for child welfare in Abilene. That was my first exposure to the courtroom and to litigators. Having observed several hearings and a few trials, it occurred to me if those guys (and they were always guys) could graduate from law school and pass the bar, I was fairly certain I could. It took me five years before I entered law school at the University of Texas. Although I had clerked for Gulf Oil Corp. after my second year in law school, I still was not convinced that oil and gas was the kind of law I wanted to practice. Instead, after graduation in May of 1976, I took a job with the Texas Attorney General’s Office when John Hill was AG. About nine months into my job, I received a call from Jesse Luton who was then associate general counsel at Gulf Oil Corp. He offered me a job in their litigation group in Houston. I accepted and began a career of practicing oil and gas law. In 1985, I moved to Midland to began practicing law with Cotton, Bledsoe, Tighe & Dawson. Because I had represented Gulf for so many years, after the merger between Gulf and Chevron, I continued to represent Chevron in litigation matters for the next 30 years. I was active on the council of the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Section of the State Bar. I suggested we should draft the first ever set of oil and gas pattern jury charges. I formed a committee and we worked on our project for about three years. In 2013, the State Bar formed a formal committee to write oil and gas pattern jury charges based on our previous work and adding to it. I served on that committee and the State Bar published our first volume in May of 2016. I retired at the end of December 2016 but continue to consult and to be active on the Oil and Gas Pattern Jury Charge Committee.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Dedicated.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

An English professor in college.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Becky Miller. She has retired from Scott Douglass but she is one of the most outstanding oil and gas litigators in the State of Texas. She was a leader on the Oil and Gas Council, and a speaker at dozens if not hundreds of oil and gas seminars. Cases she tried and that were appealed to various Texas Courts of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court were landmark decisions. Becky loves the law and has contributed much wisdom and experience to the work of the Oil and Gas Pattern Jury Charge Committee.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Don’t give up. If you lose at the trial court, go to the Court of Appeals. If you lose there, try to persuade the Texas Supreme Court to take your case. Persistence in obtaining good legal decisions that advance the law in the area of oil and gas was the key to having a very fulfilling career.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Focus and stay calm. There are many ups and downs in complex litigation and you just can’t let yourself be distracted by temporary setbacks.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

My belief is that you have to show you are interested in the industry and that your educational background both in undergraduate school and law school reflects that emphasis. I was lucky because Jesse Luton at Gulf believed in me and gave me the best job to learn the industry that a person could have. My belief is that most oil and gas companies want gender diversity in their work force. There is no better place to learn both the law and the industry than in an in-house position. If you want private practice, that is always available later. Also being actively involved in organizations like the AAPL or other industry groups will expose you to potential clients and help you learn the industry from the ground up.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Trial judges who won’t make a legal ruling such as construction of a lease or operating agreement. I have seen too many trial judges who think it is too hard or too risky to rule on motions for partial summary judgment. The result is that questions are submitted to the jury, which are really legal questions for the court. In most instances those cases get reversed by the Court of Appeals but it has cost your client far more money in legal fees because the trial judge was indecisive.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

The mesh of both factual issues and legal issues in oil and gas cases is fascinating. I don’t think I had a case in 40 years that didn’t have at least one frontier legal issue that advanced or potentially advanced oil and gas law. My goal was always to represent my client but I tried to combine that with seeking decisions that properly advanced oil and gas law. All the other states look to Texas as the leader in promulgating oil and gas law so those published decisions need to be solid, practical and well-thought out at all levels of the litigation.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I love to read. I have read so much my monthly e-book expenses were starting to eclipse my electric bill. So I finally joined our public library and am trying to mix real books and e-books.


Laura Robertson

deputy general counsel, ConocoPhillips, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Robertson came to ConocoPhillips in 2007 as senior counsel of commercial litigation and arbitration. In 2010, she became managing counsel of arbitration. Prior to joining ConocoPhillips in 2007, Robertson was a counsel at Chevron, where she handled royalty litigation and compliance. Robertson was also a senior litigation associate at King & Spalding, LLP in Houston, handling complex commercial litigation matters, primarily for international energy companies. Robertson earned her juris doctorate with honors from University of Texas in 1998. Robertson graduated from Loyola University in 1995, with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and business administration (accounting).

What is one word people use to describe you?

Driven.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be …

A novelist.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

COP general counsel Janet Carrig because she has had incredible success in the energy breaking through barriers and she is dedicated to supporting and developing other women in the energy industry as well.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

My mother taught me to never be afraid to ask for what you want, all they can say is no.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Stay calm.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Energy companies can provide more leadership training and development opportunities for women. Companies can also offer flexible working hours and childcare to assist women juggling motherhood and work.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Volatile oil prices.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Interesting, complex issues arise every day.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Spending time with my family and friends.


Anna G. Rotman

partner, Kirkland & Ellis, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I represent both plaintiffs and defendants in state, federal and bankruptcy courts throughout the United States. I’ve spent my entire legal career in private practice in Houston and have worked with clients in the energy sector throughout. I’ve enjoyed opportunities to counsel clients on disputes arising from their operations right here in Texas to the farthest reaches of the globe. I moved to Houston after graduating from Harvard Law School and clerking for the Honorable Marvin J. Garbis on the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland. I’ve been active in the legal community, serving on the board of the Federal Bar Association for the Southern District of Texas, as a trustee for the Association of Women Attorneys and as the president of the Harvard Law School Alumni Association of Houston.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Deliberate.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A management consultant.

Name an energy lawyer whom you admire and why?

Andy Calder, an energy M&A lawyer who launched and leads Kirkland’s Houston office. He is incredibly responsive to our clients and has instilled a true commitment to client service in our team. He’s a force of nature. And Brandy Copley, managing director and counsel at GE Capital because she manages to wear both business and lawyer hats well. I’ve also been so impressed by her strong commitment to pro bono work.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Take everything in one-year increments. Our jobs can be incredibly intense, so this approach prevents you from making rash decisions when the going gets tough and ensures you’ll get a solid year of experience under your belt before making major changes.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Open communication with all constituencies.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

With the passage of time this industry will become more diverse for the simple reason that younger generations are more diverse. That’s long term. In the short term, we all need to make a conscious effort to recruit, hire and promote diverse candidates.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Not sure if this is a “pet peeve” but the industry is completely dependent on global forces outside of any one player’s control. Regardless how well you manage your business, you will still be buffeted by global forces you could not have predicted. It’s a tough business.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

It’s international and entrepreneurial. I speak Spanish and French and have had the opportunity to use these skills and my international studies in my trial work.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

My favorite thing to do is hang out along Buffalo Bayou with my husband and our two children.


Robin Russell

partner, Andrews Kurth, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Robin grew up in rural South Texas. She graduated first in her class from Baylor Law School. After a clerkship with the Texas Supreme Court she joined Andrews Kurth where she has practiced for 29 years. She currently serves as Houston office managing partner and co-chair of the bankruptcy and restructuring section. Robin represents energy clients throughout the U.S. in corporate restructurings and reorganizations and provides strategic advice to corporate clients and independent boards on the legal risks associated with counterparty insolvency and the structuring of acquisitions and contracts to minimize economic risks in the event of a counterparty’s subsequent financial distress. Robin has been cited as a leading lawyer in her field by numerous legal and trade publications. She is a frequent speaker on oil and gas lending, energy restructuring and other financial and bankruptcy topics and is the author of numerous books and articles.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Focused.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

In an art studio filled with textiles and embellishments creating beautiful things.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Mike O’Leary, he works harder than anyone, knows everything about the energy capital markets and treats everyone with the utmost courtesy and respect.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

Justice is costly. Life is short. You have to learn to make difficult decisions and move on. [From my law school professor Louis Muldrow]

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Surround yourself with smart people you trust.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

Companies should support and encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for girls, provide women with leadership opportunities early in their careers and implement family-friendly work policies.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

Volatility inherent in a commodity-based business means that even a well-managed company can experience financial distress.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Volatility inherent in a commodity-based business means that every day presents new challenges and the opportunity to learn.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

Grafton, Vermont. Sitting with my husband at dawn by the river behind our house drinking a cup of tea.


Jamey Seely

executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, ION Geophysical Corp., Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

Prior to joining ION, Jamey served as senior vice president of Alternative Energy for NRG Energy Inc., with management and legal oversight of multiple new business and startup ventures related to enhanced oil recovery, solar power and nuclear project development. She also recently served in executive and general counsel roles for Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA), a joint venture subsidiary of NRG Energy in conjunction with Toshiba Corp. Prior to NRG Energy, Jamey served as vice president and general counsel at Direct Energy, and as partner in corporate and securities law with Thompson & Knight.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Creative.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A screenwriter or novelist.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Bill Swanstrom. I admire Bill because he has a keen ability to get to know not just the legal needs of the businesses he works with, but also what the business needs. He showed me how outside lawyers could go above and beyond traditional notions of value by really advocating for your business in the business community and helping you make connections with others who might be helpful in growing your business. I had never seen a lawyer undertake such a deep commitment beyond a project or assignment and act as a true advocate for helping the business grow and succeed.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

When I was in law school, I had a job with the oil & gas professor. He introduced me to the securities and finance professor because he believed that if you really wanted to be successful in energy, you had to understand securities and finance as much as energy itself. Given the size and scale of the transactions we deal with in energy, I found it was some of the best advice I received as a young lawyer.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

Figure out what you want the end result to look like first. Then, calmly work your way back from that theoretical ending to a plan that makes it real. It may sound very simple, but being sure where you want to end up is not always easy in a crisis.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

As a woman in energy, my greatest measure of success is when one of the lawyers who used to work for me gets his or her own first general counsel role. For me, it is the best way to make a difference. That generation of lawyers won’t see or think about gender and that’s when the gap will disappear.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

I’d love it if oil and gas markets could be less cyclical, but that isn’t likely to change and all stages of the cycle do create opportunities.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

Energy is such an integral part of our everyday world and has such an amazing capacity to adapt and continually be inventive, whether it’s by finding more cost efficient ways to capture oil or new forms or alternative forms of energy. At its core, energy is always challenging us to adapt and invent new things to improve the world we live in. My favorite things about this industry is its power to invent and evolve to meet challenges.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

I just finished running a marathon through a wild game preserve with the big five in Africa. I have also run a marathon across the Great Wall of China, cycled the Himalayas and biked to the highest paved road in the Pyrenees Mountains. I love to combine traveling to an interesting place with some sort of sport like running or cycling that really puts you in the middle of a new environment.


N. Susan Stone

partner, Baker & McKenzie, Houston

Please write a brief summary of your career/background.

I have been practicing tax law with an energy and international focus since 1981. My career started at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, which is now Norton Rose Fulbright. In 2001, I joined Baker & McKenzie and founded the Houston office’s tax practice, which has grown into one of the largest in the city. Because Baker & McKenzie has offices in all major energy producing countries, I am frequently involved in the tax structuring and finance considerations of large-scale energy projects.

What is one word people use to describe you?

Determined.

If you weren’t a lawyer, you would be…

A landscape architect. That’s what I first started studying while at Texas A&M before switching to business and accounting and then continuing to law school at the University of Texas.

Name an energy lawyer who you admire and why?

Jim O’Brien, Baker & McKenzie’s Global Energy, Mining & Infrastructure Practice Group chair. I admire Jim’s versatility and his knowledge of all areas of the energy practice from oil and gas to power, wind and LNG.

What is the most valuable career advice anyone has ever given you?

The most valuable career advice I’ve been given: follow your own instincts.

What is your No. 1 survival tip in a work crisis?

My No. 1 tip is to gather the best team for the job.

What can be done to tackle the energy world gender gap?

To tackle the gender gap in the energy sector, we should start by encouraging young women to pursue college majors in STEM disciplines.

What is your biggest pet peeve related to working in the energy sector?

The cyclical booms and busts can really impede long-term planning and solutions.

What is your favorite thing about working in the energy sector?

My favorite part about working on energy projects is the ability to visualize and understand the entire value chain in a specific energy area, e.g. LNG.

What is your favorite thing to do/place to visit in your down time?

In my down time, I enjoy snow skiing in Taos, New Mexico.