When Andy Spielman entered the private energy and natural resources practice in Colorado 21 years ago after leaving federal service work in Washington, D.C., a high-level policy official warned him against it. The state was full of environmental lawyers who shifted to energy practice because they no longer had enough work in environmental law, she said. Spielman said he doesn’t agree with the advice, but he has realized the important takeaway from the official’s words was to know his clients’ industry well, because that’s what they look for. Now, more than two decades later, Spielman would give that advice to new attorneys entering energy and natural resources practice.
“Clients want advisors of all ilk to know first their industry, and second their business,” said Spielman, co-partner-in-charge at WilmerHale’s Denver office and the firm’s global chair of its energy and natural resources practice. “Show your clients that you’re committed to assisting them with their success,” he said.
Rapid shifts characterizing the nation’s energy and natural resources sector in recent years, such as the contraction of oil and gas contrasted with the rise of other sections such as renewables, have meant a ripple effect on attorneys who specialize in the sector.
Spielman and other experts acknowledge the challenges presented by energy’s cyclical nature, but say Colorado is still brimming with opportunities for both new and experienced attorneys in the sector.“(The energy and natural resources practice) in Colorado has forever been the star of the nation,” said Spielman. “I think we just have tremendous talents in Colorado.”