Industry Shakers: Oil and Gas, White Collar Lawyers Switch Firms


• Jonathan A. Hunter joins Jones Walker LLP in New Orleans

• White collar attorneys switch firms


Jonathan A. Hunter wants to be known as one of the attorneys that saved BP from a $70 billion whistleblower lawsuit related to the Atlantis oil production platform, a $2 billion oil rig almost 200 miles south of New Orleans.

A federal court ultimately held that a BP contractor’s 2009 assertion that the oil company made false claims about the design of the rig were untrue, and BP was in compliance with federal safety laws.

Hunter, who has made his career representing oil and gas companies, joined Jones Walker LLP’s New Orleans office in May as a partner on the Energy Industry Team. He came from Liskow & Lewis. He has more than 30 years of experience in litigation, negotiations, and counseling.

The attorney represents companies in litigation related to federal laws that govern federal lands offshore.

Bill Hines, Jones Walker’s managing partner, described Hunter as a “go-to energy lawyer in the country.”

“His extensive knowledge and decades of experience in the energy industry reinforces our ability to serve our clients,” Hines said in a news release.

Hunter recently answered several questions for Bloomberg Environment:

What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your years of representing oil and gas companies?
“We’ve seen a real marked increase in enforcement, either in operational rules or in compliance—that’s been the story in recent years. I would say all my clients want to be in compliance with federal rules, and to stay within regulatory enforcement proceedings, and to stay within best practices.”

How have courts responded to these changes?
“There have been positive developments in the past couple years out of the Supreme Court and federal appellate courts which require agencies to be crystal clear about the regulatory requirements they impose on industry. I see that line of cases as being very positive. Companies always want to be in compliance, and they need governing agencies to be clear about what constitutes compliance and what does not. I also think there are developments in the area of administrative law that I think will make the playing field more fair.”

How did the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affect how you do your job?
“I think that it’s in the wake of that tragedy and spill that we’ve seen an uptick in enforcement, understandably. I’ve seen the oil and gas industry improve its safety procedures. In cases I represent [companies take on standards] that are higher and more burdensome than regulations would call for. . . I think industry takes safety very seriously.”

In other moves:

Denis “Archie” Fallon has joined Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in its Houston office. Fallon was previously a partner in the Houston office of King & Spalding for more than 10 years.

Fallon practices in private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and project development across the energy industry. He represents energy companies, and energy- and infrastructure-focused private equity funds and financial institutions. Willkie is an international law firm of more than 700 attorneys with offices in New York, Houston, Washington, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Brussels, Milan and Rome, according to its website. The firm is headquartered in New York.

Cormac T. Connor has joined Smith Pachter McWhorter PLC, a white collar defense and government investigations and compliance firm. Connor comes from Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Washington D.C. office where he was a partner in that firm’s government and internal investigations practice.

He is a trial lawyer and litigator with experience in a variety of criminal and civil litigation matters, including representing BP in connection to litigation resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill. Connor also served as an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 2008 to 2011.