When Houston oil and gas litigators Liz Klingensmith and Tony Guerino met at a legal training event last November, neither would have guessed that less than a year later, they would be building a practice together at a new firm in the Houston market.
Klingensmith joined Womble Bond Dickinson as a partner in Houston this week, coming from Blank Rome. Guerino, formerly of Greenberg Traurig, moved to Womble Bond in late February.
Klingensmith said she views her move to Womble Bond, which opened its Houston office in January, as an opportunity to build an oil and gas practice at a firm that’s new to Houston, with someone she really likes. She said she had hoped to build an oil and gas litigation practice at Blank Rome with some lawyers in Pittsburgh, but they left a few months after she joined the Philadelphia-based Am Law 100 firm in 2017.
“That’s when I started looking,” she said.
Klingensmith and Guerino said they met at an Institute for Energy Law training in Houston, and got to talking. They realized they had similar views about how to build an oil and gas litigation practice.
Klingensmith said she didn’t know much about Womble Bond before talking to Guerino—he had not yet himself made the move—but the more she learned, the more intrigued she became because the firm is in the Am Law 100, trans-Atlantic and new to the Houston market.
Womble Bond was created in 2017 through the merger of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, a North Carolina firm, and U.K. firm Bond Dickinson.
Klingensmith declined to identify her clients, but said she handles land and title disputes, litigation between operators and nonoperators, and royalty disputes.
“If it happens and it’s out in the oil patch, I’ve probably taken a look at it,” she said.
Guerino said they both do domestic and international energy disputes for majors, independents and “anything related to upstream operations in the E&P corporate world.”
Klingensmith said the big lesson from her move is that a chance meeting can lead to an opportunity.
“Sometimes you don’t know when you go to conferences or other events, who you are going to encounter,” she said.
Susan Bickley, chair of Blank Rome’s Houston office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Klingensmith’s departure.