It was an understatement to say that I was excited when Mark Beeley, our training principal at Vinson & Elkins revealed the news that I would be going on secondment to our head office in Houston in March. Houston is known as the energy capital of the world and this was an opportunity too good to miss.
Traveling from the airport to my apartment in Downtown Houston, I passed 40-floor skyscrapers one after another occupied by multi-national energy companies such as the likes of Shell and Chevron. It dawned on me that I really was in the energy capital, but it was not until I stepped into the office on day one that I realised the scale of V&E and how big the firm actually is. We are located in the heart of Downtown and occupy 14 floors inside a 36-floor building. One of the perks they have in the Houston office which we lack in our London office is definitely our very own Starbucks barista!
I will rotate through three different practice groups while in Houston spending two months in each in complex commercial litigation, finance and finally energy transactions and projects.
In litigation, I have been assisting on a potential dispute between two international oil and gas companies in relation to their joint venture in Peru. I have been involved in attending conference calls with local counsel and our client to discuss our strategy and reviewing documents to find arguments to support our case. It was also great to finally meet two associates in Houston who I had previously worked with while in London on an international arbitration. The international dimension of V&E makes the work even more exciting as it is possible to work with people all around the world from different countries and cultures.
I have definitely come to Houston at the right time of the year as it is Rodeo season! The livestock show involving cowboys riding horses and bulls was an incredible experience. Along with the carnival, country band performance and the Rodeo’s infamous fried food (no regrets trying the fried cookie dough and fried Oreos!), jumbo turkey leg and shrimp tacos has well and truly completed my Texan experience – and it’s only week three.