Highlights from the CPR Houston Regional Meeting & Networking Event

By Tamia Sutherland

The CPR Energy, Oil, and Gas Committee held its Fifth Annual Houston Regional Meeting and Networking Event on January 19. The meeting, attended by more than 75 participants, was divided into two parts: a panel discussion and networking roundtable where attendees were placed in breakout rooms with the panelists and rotated every 10 minutes.

BakerHostetler was a co-sponsor of the meeting, which was moderated by Sashe Dimitroff, the national practice leader of BakerHostetler’s International Commercial Arbitration team. The panelists discussed the most important factors they look for and their frame of mind while selecting outside counsel when a problem arises and included:

  • Victoria Lazar, the Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary in Houston at TechnipFMC, a global company providing technology for energy operations (see Marc Curriden, “TechnipFMC’s Victoria Lazar Solves Billion-Dollar Problems,” Texas Lawbook (Dec. 21, 2021) (available here).
  • Bryan Elwood, the chief legal officer at Houston’s Tricon Energy, which provides support for commodities market participants including risk management, finance, and more.
  • Josh Dazey, the general counsel of Arlington, Texas-based U.S. Energy Development Corp., a private oil and gas producer, and
  • Alberto Ravell, senior legal counsel at ConocoPhillips Co., a Houston-based oil and gas producer.

Brief introductions were made by CPR’s Vice President of Global Development, Mia Levi, and President and CEO Allen Waxman. Moderator Dimitroff then began with a question about the panelists’ biggest internal clients from the in-house counsel viewpoint. Panelist Josh Dazey explained that his internal clients are the entire executive management team, including the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, vice presidents of securities, operations, and business development. Panelist Alberto Ravell added that he also has to address international and domestic business units and other colleagues in his legal department.

Dimitroff then asked what type of research the panelists do before hiring outside counsel. Panelist Bryan Elwood explained that he generally has a list of counsel. But he highly recommended that firms have a good network of lawyers who can make referrals. Furthermore, Elwood said he explores information on the Internet, such as Legal 500 and other similar sources. Once his research is complete, he said he goes through interview, shortlist, and decision processes.

An audience member asked how solo practitioners can get in front of the panelists and in-house counsel. Panelist Victoria Lazar explained that the best way is to cultivate relationships for references, and publish thought-provoking, industry-specific articles that will catch people’s attention.

Moreover, Lazar stated that she is willing to follow lawyers if they leave larger firms and branch out independently. Panelist Bryan Elwood added that in his experience, sometimes larger firms will bring on a solo practitioner to help in a case, which is a great starting point to build relationships with in-house attorneys.

The last question posed asked the panelists to provide examples of a good first meeting with a lawyer/firm. The panelists suggested being prepared, understanding the business risk, and chemistry as essential factors. Moderator Dimitroff summed up the answers by stating that the most important thing clients care about is commercial solutions.

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For more information about CPR’s Energy, Oil and Gas Dispute Resolution Services, please visit the CPR website.

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The author, a second-year law student at the Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., is a CPR 2022 Spring Intern.

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