Continental Breakfast: Bracewell's Rudy Giuliani
Nichol’s hire was quickly followed by that of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) corporate associate Alastair Young, who joined the firm as a partner. Bracewell further bolstered its London energy practice in June with the recruitment of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Martin Stewart-Smith, and two oil and gas associates—Ben James from Linklaters and Darren Spalding from Allen & Overy, both of whom are now partners of the U.S. firm. The trio were joined by HSF senior associate Olivia Caddy, who specializes in structured debt financings in the energy sector. (Bracewell currently has six partners in London, but that will increase to seven in November, when HSF's former finance practice head, Jason Fox, joins the firm as London senior partner.)
The waitress finally returns. I still haven’t looked at the menu—Giuliani talks pretty relentlessly once he gets going—so just ask for a plate of scrambled eggs, which, when they arrive, are bizarrely accompanied by a side of fried new potatoes. I curse Captain Cook under my breath.
Giuliani says the refocused London office will be built around what he refers to as "world class propositions"—areas in which the firm believes it can occupy a leading position in the market.
"We’re not looking to market ourselves as the best law firm in the world for everything—we’re not," he mumbles through a mouthful of yogurt. "We’re the best law firm in the world for eight things."
I raise my eyebrow questioningly. He clarifies his statement accordingly: "We’re as good as anybody in the world for eight things."
One of those things, Giuliani says, is energy, which will form the core of Bracewell's new London strategy. The firm is particularly interested in the fledgling U.K. market for shale gas extraction, which is generating excitement and controversy after a ban on the process was lifted by the government last December. A moratorium had been placed on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”—whereby pressurized liquid is injected into rock, creating small fractures through which gas and petroleum can be extracted—after the drilling of three exploratory shale gas wells off the coast of Blackpool in 2011 was blamed for a series of minor earthquakes.
Bracewell boasts one of America’s leading fracking practices, and Giuliani also sees considerable potential in the U.K. for overlap between the law firm and his consulting business, Giuliani Partners (GP), which already advises several U.S. shale gas companies on security issues. (Giuliani says he splits his time evenly between Bracewell, GP, and speaking engagements for the Washington Speakers Bureau, which sees him tour the world—in private jets that his contract states must be a Gulfstream IV or bigger—delivering speeches on energy and economics for a fee of up to $100,000 a pop. The remaining 10 percent of his time, he says, is spent playing golf. It’s good work if you can get it.)
“Fracking is second nature in Texas—it’s been going on for 18 years and isn’t a big deal,” he says. “But for a community, it’s a two-edged sword. There’s a lot of business, a lot of people get wealthy, and a lot of people get jobs. On the other hand, there’s this big fear that the water is going to get polluted or there’s going to be an earthquake. [GP] has lots of experience in mitigating the risk and then explaining it [to communities] to lower resistance.”
The London office will also be targeting white-collar work, Giuliani adds. The U.K. government’s introduction of a new and wide-ranging Bribery Act in 2011 has led to a significant increase in white-collar work for U.K. law practices, and its broad jurisdictional reach creates strong ties to the U.S. market and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which Giuliani says he has been involved with “since the day it was born. ” (He testified against it twice when it was first proposed in the 1970s.)
Giuliani already has experience in developing Bracewell’s office network. When he joined the firm in 2005, his main task was to help it launch and establish itself in New York. (He was handsomely rewarded for doing so: The New York Times reported that Giuliani received $1.2 million in compensation from Bracewell in 2006, including a $1 million base salary and 7.5 percent of the profits of the New York office.)