• Prominent energy firm Hunton & Williams merges with Andrews Kurth Kenyon

• Merger will give Hunton a larger presence in Texas, partner says

• Also, Sidley Austin hires energy lawyer Heather Palmer from Bracewell

Prominent energy law firm Hunton & Williams LLP hopes its recent merger with Andrews Kurth Kenyon LLP will give it a leg up to expand its practice in energy-rich Texas, according to one of Hunton’s partners.

Also, the firm Sidley Austin LLP moved to hire Heather Palmer, an energy-focused attorney, from her previous employer, Bracewell LLP.

These are the moves we’re keeping an eye on at Bloomberg Environment.

Hunton Merger

Bill Brownell, a partner in Hunton’s environmental practice group, said the two firms are a natural fit, given Hunton’s background in the power sector and Andrews’ portfolio in the oil and gas industry.

Combining forces will “enable us to provide the full complement of services across all of the energy sectors,” Brownell told Bloomberg Environment.

Hunton’s client list is heavily tilted toward the power sector, according to data from Bloomberg Law. Almost eight percent of its litigation work over the past five years was for three industry groups: the Utility Water Act Group, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, and the American Petroleum Institute.

Andrews’ client list is even more concentrated in the energy sector, according to Bloomberg Law. More than a quarter of its litigation work over the past five years has been for BP Plc and its subsidiaries.

Texas Growth

Brownell said the merger of the two firms will be complete on April 2 and that decisions are still being made on who will lead the environmental and energy practices of the newly christened Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP—the combined firm’s new name.

Brownell said he expects Hunton’s offices in Texas to grow as a result of the merger.

“We anticipate that our environmental practice will continue to grow as our clients grow and face new challenges,” he said. “We think the combination of Hunton and Andrews Kurth positions the new firm nicely to take advantage of those opportunities, and together we have a very strong cadre of younger partners and associates to pursue them.”

Palmer to Sidley

Also in the Texas legal world, attorney Heather Palmer is heading to the firm Sidley Austin. Palmer will be joining the firm’s Houston offices, according to a Sidley news release.

Palmer comes to Sidley from the Houston-based firm Bracewell. Before that, she was a partner at the firm now known as Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, according to her LinkedIn profile.

At Fulbright, Palmer defended Exxon Mobil in a civil lawsuit over alleged hazardous waste disposal violations. She was also among a team of Fulbright attorneys who represented Union Pacific Railroad in a large environmental case. Both cases were tried in federal district courts, according to a Bloomberg Law docket search.

Palmer’s move is a part of Sidley’s expansion into the Houston market, according to its news release. She’ll help round out its team of attorneys who advise clients on mergers and acquisitions.

Palmer’s new office declined to make her available to speak with Bloomberg Environment, citing the need to avoid commenting on issues that could affect the firm’s clients.