Founded in Houston in 1917, this Lone Star
State institution rode the wildcatter era to build its name on
(what else?!) oil and gas matters. Vinson & Elkins hasn't
looked back since, establishing itself as a household name in the
global energy industry while growing its expertise in an array of
other practice areas and industries. In fact, six of the firm's top
10 clients in 2015 were non-energy companies.
A North Carolina native who'd adopted the city
of Houston as his own, attorney William Vinson teamed up with local
James Elkins in 1917. Aside from owning law practices in Huntsville
and Houston, Elkins had grown up next door to one James Baker-as in
Baker Botts. Elkins must have kept business and neighborly
relationships separate, however: the National Bank of Commerce
ditched Baker Botts for the nascent V&E the same year the
latter firm came into existence.
While representing its share of oil titans,
Vinson & Elkins hedged its efforts by advising scores of
smaller independent oil prospectors-risky relationships with the
potential to reap enormous paydays. In the mid-1920s, the founding
pair pooled their cash with business acquaintances and other firm
partners to branch into the banking business, establishing the
entity that would become the (since-shuttered) First City National
More expansion arrived with the official end
of the Cold War, as former Soviet states opened up to outside
business interests; in a repeat of its timely foundation in the
days of the Texas oil boom, V&E seized upon the rush to open a
Moscow office. With the 20th Century drawing to a close, V&E
again exhibited impressive foresight in starting up branches in
Beijing and Singapore before the bulk of BigLaw had made its way
across the Pacific (although the firm didn't send people to New
York until 1998).
One noteworthy apparent exception to this
visionary trend, however, came in the firm's representation of
Enron: after collecting $162 million from the infamously
scandal-ridden company between 1998 and 2001, V&E ended up
paying Enron's bankruptcy estate $30 million to avoid going to
trial over accusations that it had turned a blind eye to rampant
accounting malfeasance. The firm admitted no wrongdoing under the
terms of the 2006 settlement.
Significantly, V&E's low leverage and
willingness to diversify its practice portfolio (which now includes
specialties in such varied areas as banking/finance, technology,
transportation, biotech, real estate, and complements to its oil
and gas expertise, climate change, environmental, and clean energy
practices) should prove helpful no matter which way the economic
winds blow. That said, this is still a Texas firm at its core,
which means one thing: Big Oil. And with the industry's major
players consistently reporting multi-billion-dollar quarterly
profits, V&E seems well positioned for the future.
For the second time in three years, Vinson & Elkins won the
Texas Lawyer Energy Litigation Department of the Year
Award. The award recognizes significant energy litigation
accomplishments achieved in 2014.
For the fourth consecutive year, V&E was named to "The
Awesome Opponents" list in BTI Consulting Group's annual Litigation
Outlook report. Having previously made appearances on the list in
2013, 2014 and 2015, V&E is among just 13 U.S. firms recognized
in BTI's 2016 report.
Working Mother magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers named
Vinson & Elkins as one of the "50 Best Law Firms for Women."
This is the seventh time V&E has been included on the list that
recognizes firms for family-friendly policies and career and
business development initiatives that help to advance women into
the leadership pipeline.
The Perfect Score
For the second consecutive year, Vinson & Elkins received a
perfect score of 100 on the 2016 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a
national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and
practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered annually
by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The CEI grades businesses
and law firms on their workplace initiatives, benefits, and
corporate and community responsibility around inclusiveness and
Recognized for Innovation
Vinson & Elkins was recognized by Financial Times
in its 2015 North America Innovative Lawyers report. The firm was
commended in the annual report for its representation of Riverstone
Holdings LLC in a complex transaction and separately for defending
KBR, Inc. against False Claims Act litigation at the U.S. Supreme
Practice Group of the Year
For the sixth consecutive year, Vinson & Elkins secured its
spot on Law360's "Energy Practice Groups of the Year"
list. In this year's profile, the publication described V&E as
an "energy law mainstay," highlighting the firm's work over the
past year on behalf of some of the country's largest oil and gas
companies, including Targa Resources Partners LP in its $7.7
billion acquisition of Atlas Energy LP and Hiland Partners in its
$3 billion acquisition by Kinder Morgan Inc.
Vinson & Elkins' leadership has long held a vision for
increasing diversity in the legal profession. To aid in fueling the
diversity pipeline, the firm offers three V&E-sponsored
initiatives for diverse students each year, ranging from high
school seniors to law students. Since 1990, V&E Scholarships
($10,000) are awarded to outstanding high school seniors in Texas
who are entering college; V&E Law Preview Scholarships are
offered to up to 40 students entering The University of Texas Law
School to help students prepare for success in law school; and
V&E Diversity Fellowships ($7,000) are awarded to some of the
brightest law students from the nation's top law schools.