2020 Vault Rankings
At a Glance
“The quality of clients and matters to work on is as sophisticated as there is.”
“The people! 100% the people. The firm culture is amazing.”
“Uneven distribution of work.”
About Vinson & Elkins LLP
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 at the forefront of the global energy industry while growing its expertise in an array of other practice areas, such as technology, banking/finance, M&A/private equity, real estate, media, complex litigation, and tax.
A North Carolina native who adopted the city of Houston as his own, attorney William Vinson teamed up with local judge James Elkins in 1917. 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. V&E went from Houston straight London in 1971 and, at the official end of the Cold War, Moscow. V&E even went the Asia Pacific before the bulk of BigLaw did (although the firm didn’t open an office in New York until 1998).
V&E’s low leverage, smartly managed finances, and willingness to diversify its practice portfolio (which now includes specialties in areas including banking/finance; technology; transportation; biotech; and complements to its oil and gas, environmental, regulatory, and clean energy practices) should prove helpful no matter which way the economic winds blow.
V&E is a go-to firm for Big Oil. In fact, the firm ranks No. 1 in Vault’s Energy, Oil, & Gas ranking. With the industry’s major players consistently reporting multi-billion-dollar quarterly profits, V&E seems well positioned for the future.
The firm also has a top-notch Clean Energy & Renewables practice with experience working with hydro, solar, and wind energies; energy storage; fuel cells; smart-grid applications; biomass; waste-to-energy, and more. The team works across practices, bringing in the firm’s experience in environmental law counseling, licensing, M&A, project development, project financing, and regulatory counseling.
Aside from its energy work, the firm has a bustling corporate practice, with particular strengths in M&A, project finance, securities, and venture capital and emerging companies.
V&E isn’t just a big player in the energy world—they’ve also got one heck of a blogosphere. Their blogs cover climate change, labor and employment, environmental law, the False Claims Act, and high-tech litigation, as well as coverage of V&E’s pro bono work. V&E’s pro bono blog, GiVE Back, should be pretty full by now—the firm performs an average of 30,000 hours of pro bono work every year. V&E is most known for the legal aid it provides veterans, nonprofits, low-income individuals, asylum seekers, and those seeking medical guardianship.
News & Awards
V&E’s New York presence significantly expanded with the addition of several key lateral hires. In April 2019, a nationally recognized Real Estate team of 19 lawyers and paralegals joined the firm’s growing New York office. Partners Wallace Schwartz, Adam Endick, and Julia Sanabria bring a broad-based and sophisticated real estate practice to the firm that includes acquisitions, capital markets, and leasing transactions. Eamon Nolan joined V&E as a partner in 2019, bolstering the firm’s capabilities in project finance and cross-border transactions, including in Latin America and Spain. V&E also expanded its M&A team with the addition of partner John Kupiec in 2018.
Complex, high-stakes litigation is familiar territory for V&E, and the firm continued its stellar work for clients across the globe. In January 2019, V&E won a major antitrust victory for AirTran Airways when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected long running multidistrict litigation accusing the airline of colluding with a competitor to adopt a first-checked baggage fee. The high court denied a petition for review filed by plaintiffs seeking to reinstate the multibillion dollar lawsuit, which had been rejected by a district court and the Eleventh Circuit.
Long a leader in energy M&A, V&E works on many of the energy industry’s largest and most high-profile transactions. In one of 2018’s largest deals, V&E advised Energy Transfer Partners on the purchase of ETP by Energy Transfer Equity. The transaction was valued at $62 billion.
V&E’s Clean Energy & Renewables practice continues to be busy. V&E advised Goldman Sachs’ renewable energy fund on its approximately $350 million acquisition from Marina Energy (subsidiary of South Jersey Industries). The solar portfolio, comprised of 76 distributed solar energy projects with total capacity of 204 MW, spans 143 sites across four states and provides power to schools, hospitals, and commercial and industrial facilities.
- Vinson & Elkins lawyers helped to secure a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring more racially diverse representation on grand juries in Texas. (Smith v. State of Texas, 1940)
- V&E won a record-setting $1 billion antitrust award for ETSI Pipeline against Santa Fe Southern Pacific Corp., asserting that several railroads conspired to block construction of a multi-billion dollar project. (ETSI Pipeline Project v. Burlington Northern, Inc., 1989)
- V&E defended CBS’ 60 Minutes in a libel trial over a news report tying a Hispanic family to ownership of a slum colony on the U.S.-Mexico border. The case demonstrates the diversity of V&E’s litigation practice, which includes a number of media clients. (Kastrin v. CBS, Inc., 1998)
- V&E represented Reliance Industries on its $7.2 billion sale to BP Plc of a stake in 21 oil and gas production sharing contracts. At the time, the deal was one of the largest foreign direct investments ever made into India. (2011)
- Capital Markets Law Firm of the Year, Chambers USA-Texas, 2019
- Best Law Firms for Women for eight years, Working Mother, 2018
- Energy Practice Group of the Year, Law360, 2018
- 100% Score on Corporate Equality Index for LGBTQ Workplace Equality for eighth year, Human Rights Campaign, 2019
- Pro Bono Leader Award, American Bar Association, 2018
1001 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 758-2222
Chairman: T. Mark Kelly
Managing Partner: Scott Wulfe
Talent Management Chair & Firm Hiring Partner: Steve Gill
Total No. Attorneys 2019:
500 - 750
All U.S. offices
1st year: $190,000
2nd year: $200,000
3rd year: $220,000
4th year: $255,000
5th year: $280,000
6th year: $305,000
7th year: $325,000
8th year: $340,000
Summer associate: $3,654/week
No. of Summer Associates:
131 total (93 2Ls, 38 1Ls) (2019)
Director of Entry-Level Hiring
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Complex Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Employment, Labor and OSHA
Environmental and Natural Resources
M&A/Private Equity/Venture Capital
Restructuring & Reorganization
Tax/Employment Benefits/Executive Compensation
*See firm website for complete list of practice areas and industries.