By Casey Sullivan
Jan 7 (Reuters) - The Chicago-based law firm Schiff Hardin
has acquired the 10-lawyer Washington energy law boutique Bruder
Gentile & Marcoux, the firms announced on Monday.
The combination, which became effective Jan. 1, nearly
doubles the size of Schiff Hardin's 11-lawyer energy practice.
Five Bruder Gentile members joined as partners.
The deal adds a mergers and acquisitions component to Schiff
Hardin's energy practice, which until now has specialized in
advising investor-owned utilities and electric nonprofit
cooperatives in a variety of federal regulatory enforcement
matters, according to leaders of the firms.
Among recent deals, Bruder Gentile advised Boston-based
utility NStar, as part of its $5 billion April merger with
Connecticut's Northeast Utilities. The combination formed one of
the largest electric and natural gas utilities in the United
Leading up to the merger , Bruder Gentile handled NStar's
application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which
authorized the transaction, according to firm partner Carmen
Schiff Hardin's acquisition underscores the growing interest
among law firms' in recruiting lawyers with expertise in the
energy field, the most active industry in United States for
mergers and acquisitions in 2012, according to Thomson Reuters
Law firm managing partners believe the energy industry is
one of the few sectors fueling growth in the U.S. economy, said
Sabina Lippman, a legal recruiter with Lippman Jungers.
Roughly half of the exclusive searches Lippman Jungers
handles are focused on energy lawyers, she said. For the
company's international law firm clients, energy is the first or
second most desired practice area to expand.
One driver of new energy work could be the tax law passed by
Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff, lawyers said. The deal
extended by one year a tax credit worth 2.2 cents per
kilowatt-hour of energy produced by new wind installations for
the first 10 years of operation.
Sherry Quirk, leader of Schiff Hardin's energy and public
utilities group, said she expects to receive more business based
on the construction of new wind operations because owners will
need legal advice on federal compliance issues.
Schiff Hardin employs 385 lawyers in nine offices throughout
the United States. Its lawyers specialize in a range of
practices, including construction, real estate, corporate law
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