Hunton, V&E add to energy infra practice

Hunton & Williams hired a six man energy infrastructure team while Vinson & Elkins appointed a Herbert Smith veteran to its Tokyo office as energy infrastructure and project finance have continued to be vital to corporate law in 2012.

Hunton & Williams and Vinson & Elkins (V&E) both added to their energy and infrastructure business, hiring veteran legal personnel, each law firm announced.

Richmond, Virginia-based Hunton poached a six-man team led by pipeline specialist Bud Ellis from Dewey & LeBoeuf Tuesday. Ellis brought Kevin Felz, Michael Fitzpatrick Jr., Steven Friend, Steve Loeshelle and Peter O’Brien with him to Hunton.

Each man was a partner with Dewey except for Felz, who was counsel. With his appointment at Hunton, Felz made partner.  New York-headquartered Dewey has lost 60 people in 2012.

Hunton, which has a 150-member energy practice dating back to 1901, said Ellis and his team will be based in New York. Ellis in a statement noted his group has extensive infrastructure fund and project finance experience.

Meanwhile, V&E said James Watson joined its global energy and project practice group in Tokyo. He had been heading energy infrastructure for Herbert Smith, where he began working in 1997.

In the US, energy infrastructure law has continued to be an in-demand practice area in 2012.

In addition to Hunton and Vinson & Elkins, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as well as Chadbourne & Parke have in the past year stepped up hiring for their energy infrastructure and project finance businesses.

Los Angles-headquartered Nossaman, an infrastructure and project finance stalwart, has also emphasised hiring staff with energy experience, citing a plan to add staff skilled in non-traditional infrastructure. Akin Gump has called energy infrastructure a “strategic priority” for the firm.