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High energy – Bracewell & Giuliani continues City push with CC partner hire

With shale gas emerging as one of the most touted new markets for advisers, one of the leading US players in the sector this week continued its well-publicised City push with Bracewell & Giuliani recruiting Clifford Chance (CC) energy and construction partner Tracy London.

The appointment is the eighth senior London hire this year for the 485-lawyer Bracewell, which is best known in the US for its energy work and the addition of former New York mayor and US presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani (pictured) as a name partner in 2005.

Bracewell London managing partner Julian Nichol said: ‘Tracy is a leading energy construction lawyer in the City, and her arrival gives us market-leading expertise. I know our clients will be delighted with this.’

The Texas-bred Bracewell launched its London branch in 2007 but has only recently made a substantive play in UK law, in part reflecting expectations that Europe’s shale gas sector will echo the transformation seen in US energy production over the last decade.

While shale gas – and the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting it – remains highly controversial in Europe, the UK government is currently trying to stimulate moves to extract sizeable reserves from northern England.

Other Texan law firms that have been recently investing in the UK include Andrews Kurth, which announced in May it was to launch a UK law energy practice after hiring former Ashurst partner Peter Roberts to build the team. Also Locke Lord last year launched in the City after recruiting a large team from the legacy Salans. The firm now has 17 partners in London.

With a fifth of the UK’s existing power generation sources set to be decommissioned by 2020, many are predicting dramatic growth in the UK’s shale gas industry. Such a development would likely pit leading US advisers like Bracewell, Vinson & Elkins and Baker Botts against London’s top firms in fighting for dominance of a lucrative new niche.

For more on the shale gas see ‘The $6.4trn question’