MSC Member Spotlight: McGuireWoods

Last week, we spoke with Megan Haines of McGuireWoods to learn about the firm and its energy disputes practice. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. Tell us about McGuireWoods and more specifically the energy disputes practice.

McGuireWoods is a full-service, Am Law 50 firm with approximately 1,100 lawyers in 21 offices worldwide. We have nationally recognized transactional, regulatory and litigation capabilities to serve clients across the industry and across energy sectors – upstream, midstream, downstream and service sectors. Additionally, McGuireWoods Consulting, our public affairs subsidiary, provides government relations, infrastructure, economic development and advocacy solutions for our clients.

The firm has built strong, cross-practice industry teams that combine legal skill with a deep understanding of the industry. Energy is a priority area for the firm. We regard it as both a strength and growth area. McGuireWoods has always had a strong energy practice. We have also been in the Pittsburgh market for nearly two decades. The energy industry was the reason that this office opened.

As for our energy disputes practice, Ryan Frei in Richmond and I lead the group. We do pre-litigation counseling and litigation representation for industry-side clients, particularly in our Pittsburgh and Houston offices. Anything a client might need – from advising about commercial and lease disputes to environmental and trade secret claims – we help with anything that might take them into court.

Q. What sets McGuireWoods apart from its peers, especially in the energy space?

One of the things that really sets McGuireWoods apart as a firm is its commitment to what we refer to as our core values – excellence, diversity and inclusion, client service, community and collegiality, as well as integrity. A lot of firms have lists of what the firms’ values are, but I have never seen a firm that demonstrates its commitment to those values, particularly client service, every day, the way McGuireWoods does.

Additionally, our energy team is an innovative and integrated group, which adds value for our clients. In most law firms, the practice groups do not necessarily interact much and do not collaborate on client matters. I’ve had litigation matters where my transactional colleagues have been at the table and said, ‘Did you think about this aspect of this dispute you’re having and how that might impact the leverage you can bring for the client?’ We’ve obtained unusual and great outcomes that wouldn’t have been possible without the synergies of the different practice areas.

Q. How has the growth of energy development in the region provided opportunities for the firm?

The Pittsburgh office opened around an energy client. Within the last four years or so, this office has almost doubled in significant part because of the growth of the oil and gas team here in Pittsburgh.

It is certainly the case that the legal industry has seen the impacts of the industry over the last decade plus. We definitely fall within that camp of businesses, perhaps, that people don’t even think about as having been created by the Marcellus boom.

I regard my career as demonstrating the industry economic multiplier. My career would be totally different without the energy development in the region. I graduated from law school in 2006 and started my career at a firm that did conventional work, so when the Marcellus took off, I was there. My earliest oil and gas work dates to within the first year or two of my practice. It’s been the predominant part of my practice for more than a decade. My Pittsburgh oil and gas team colleagues all have similar stories.

Q. What has been the value of MSC membership?

We see MSC as a value-add for a couple of reasons. First, with regards the day-to-day practice, MSC provides us insight into the heartbeat of the industry. What is going on? What is impacting our client? What regulations have been proposed? What regulations are a problem or maybe not the problem we might have anticipated? What do our clients care about?

Second, as a service provider, MSC provides networking opportunities. It provides opportunities to talk with potential clients, talk with existing clients, and to connect within the industry space with environmental consultants, supply chain players and so on. Membership allows us to be, in a real sense, an industry player and to be recognized as such.

Q. What is one thing you’d want to tell a neighbor or friend not in the energy industry, what would it be?

The industry isn’t what people generally expect it to be. The industry is here and it’s in the community, it’s supporting the community, it’s supplying economic and educational opportunities. It’s a responsible industry that takes seriously its role within those communities. It’s a dynamic and interesting industry in which to work.

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