Over Memorial Day weekend, the Texas legislature passed the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act. Texas is now poised to join a rapidly growing list of U.S. states that have passed “comprehensive” privacy regulations, a trend that began in 2018 with the enactment of the California Consumer Privacy Act. The TPDSA will likely have a much broader impact than the similar laws enacted in Virginia, Utah, Colorado and Connecticut.
Meaningful Change Requires Personal Investment
As female attorneys who have worked in-house and in various firm environments, we have seen firsthand the challenges that women and marginalized communities face in the legal profession.
While there has been progress in recent years, there are still far too few female partners and other underrepresented leaders in the field, such that we can’t rely on structural and institutional change alone. More progress cannot occur without lawyers across the spectrum investing in the next generation of lawyers from underrepresented communities.
Joe Davidson – ‘A Proud Rice Owl’ Making a Difference
For 28 years, Joe Davidson has worked as an in-house lawyer at Rice University and is GC of Rice Management Company, the entity that includes Rice’s $7.8 billion endowment, which provides about 40 percent of the university’s operating revenues. His list of successes is long.
“My biggest accomplishments have been to be able to facilitate and support the big visions and thinking of Rice’s faculty, students and administrators — supporting them in obtaining research funding, conducting fieldwork, publishing their results and licensing them for further research and commercial development,” Davidson told The Texas Lawbook.
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Lawbook honored Davidson on May 4 with the 2023 Houston General Counsel of the Year Award for a Nonprofit Institution. This is his story.
Expert Voices: ‘Dear GC, You May Need to Amend Your Form Natural Gas Contracts’
The Uniform Commercial Code — in all its forms — tells us that the increased or unforeseen cost of selling a good alone does not excuse performance. After all, a rise in prices or the collapse of a given market is no justification, the UCC states, “for that is exactly the type of business risk which business contracts made at fixed prices are intended to cover.” But recent case law puts a finer point on the issue and may require lawyers to refine their form natural gas purchase and supply contracts to redefine force majeure in certain circumstances.
Big Winners 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Awards: BMC Software, Brookfield, Sitio Royalties, Cactus, Ocean Point Terminals
The two finalists for the 2023 Houston General Counsel of the Year Award for Large, Small and Solo Legal Departments were each separated by one point in their respective categories. The finalists for Senior Counsel of the Year for a Midsized Legal Department were separated by a mere two points. On Thursday night, the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook announced the winners at the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Awards ceremony.
The names included Dionne Hamilton, Fred Day, Carolyn Benton Aiman, Amy Blumrosen, Raymond Chang, Rishi Varma, Jude Andre, Brett Riesenfeld, Mark Chavez, Pat Tagtow, Sarah Menendez, William Marsh, Averill Conn, Hakim Effiom-Dauw, Rob Ellis and Joe Davidson.
Baker Hughes’ Amy Blumrosen Fights For ‘Equity, Equality and Inclusion for All’
Amy Blumrosen is a jack of all trades, both in her litigation work in Baker Hughes’ legal department and in her work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal industry. She chairs the legal and compliance department’s DEI council at the company and outside of work has advocated for the LGBTQ community through her work with Lambda Legal, the Texas Minority Council Forum and more. She also fights inequities through volunteer work at the Houston Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and more. All her efforts have landed her recognition by the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook as a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion award.
“When she can’t get in through the door, she’s coming in through the window,” said Travis Torrence, a previous ACC winner and friend of Blumrosen. “If the window is closed, she’s going to break through the ceiling. Amy gets things done and achieves meaningful change.”
Blumrosen’s steadfast commitment to fight inequities comes from deep personal experience. This is her story.
Q&A: Amy Blumrosen, GLC of Baker Hughes
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston chapter and The Texas Lawbook recently named Baker Hughes global litigation counsel Amy Blumrosen a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion award.
In this Q&A, Blumrosen discusses with The Lawbook’s pro bono, public service and diversity writer Natalie Posgate how she approaches female attorney mentorship, why community and pro bono work is important in addition to DEI work and her views on where DEI is headed in the Texas corporate world.
Mark Chavez, GC of Ocean Point Terminals, Creates Success from an Environmental Mess in a Caribbean Paradise
When Mark Chavez was brought on board as general counsel at Ocean Point Terminals in June 2021, he knew he had his work cut out for him. Its major client, a refinery on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, had been shut down by the EPA after a series of environmental incidents and was barreling towards bankruptcy. With the two companies bound together in service agreements that threatened both, all he had to do was negotiate a divorce with the other company, fend off four class-action lawsuits, defend dozens of other lawsuits, arrange more than $100 million in bridge financing and new capital, help re-permit the refinery and salvage the company’s relationship with its island neighbors.
He did it; pretty much all of it. And as a result, Mark Chavez is a finalist for GC of the Year for a Small Legal Department (five or less lawyers) in the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Awards.
Marilyn Moore Basso’s ‘Drive and Intelligence Put Her in the Top Tier of GCs’
TPC General Counsel Marilyn Moore Basso has faced some challenges the past couple of years. The petrochemical processor experienced a major explosion at its refinery in Port Neches. Next came the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by an unforeseen economic recession and a plunge in commodity prices. In February 2021, there was Winter Storm Uri, which brought subzero temperatures to Texas.
In June 2022, TPC Group filed for Chapter 11. Marilyn and her small legal team at TPC steered the company through a full restructuring in just six months. Her leadership and efforts on these matters have earned her the recognition of being named a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for General Counsel of the Year for a Small Legal Department.
Mitsubishi’s Hakim Effiom-Dauw – ‘An Extraordinary Deal Lawyer’ Who Sets the Standard for Young In-house Lawyers
When Mitsubishi entered into a novel multibillion-dollar joint venture agreement with two other energy giants to develop and build a project that captures, transports and stores carbon dioxide, the global giant turned to a rising star in its legal department, Hakim Effiom-Dauw to help it identify and address risks and challenges. The development of Hackberry Carbon Sequestration is only one of several successes for Hakim during the three years with Mitsubishi and one of the reasons ACC’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook honor Effiom-Dauw with the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Rookie of the Year.
Southwestern Energy’s Rob Ellis: ‘An Impressive Mix of Smarts and Emotional Intelligence’
As assistant general counsel of Southwestern Energy, Rob Ellis has notched big victories. None bigger than last October when Ellis and his team of lawyers at Yetter Coleman sued a chemical company whose operations on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River allegedly trespassed and interfered with the underground drilling operations of a Southwestern Energy subsidiary. A three-week trial resulted in a unanimous verdict awarding Ellis’ company $70 million in damages. Citing the huge courtroom victory and his service to the greater Houston community, the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston chapter and The Texas Lawbook have awarded Ellis the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Senior Counsel of the Year for a Small Legal Department (five or fewer lawyers).
Jeff McNabb: Patterson-UTI’s ‘Offensive Coordinator’
Jeff McNabb’s destiny to be a trial lawyer started in the first grade when his teacher conducted an impromptu trial and appointed McNabb to represent a fellow student involved in a playground argument. Now decades later, McNabb is head of litigation for Patterson-UTI Management, where he won two major courtroom victories in 2022 — one against former employees who allegedly took the company’s confidential information and the other involving an insurance coverage dispute for several underlying worksite injuries.
Citing McNabb’s leadership in those cases, the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook recognize him as a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Senior Counsel of the Year for a Midsized Legal Department.
For Brookfield’s Fred Day, ‘No Fire Drills’ Just Multibillion Dollar Deals
As a rookie deal lawyer, Fred Day’s first transaction in 2007 was valued at more than $1 billion. In the 15 years since, Day has handled dozens of M&A and capital markets transactions with combined price tags exceeding $100 billion. No year in his career, however, matches the magnitude of 2022.
As managing director at Brookfield Asset Management, Day led six major infrastructure deals last year with a combined dollar value of more than $55 billion, including a $30 billion “first-of-its-kind” JV with Intel Corp. for a semiconductor fabrication facility in Arizona. As a result, Day is a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Senior Counsel of the Year for a Midsized Legal Department.
Vitol’s Averill Conn is at ‘the Intersection of Energy and New Technology’
Averill Conn has spent the past 29 months at Vitol, where she played a key role in the acquisition of three wind farms in Pennsylvania and another in Illinois, the establishment of Vitol’s solar and battery storage development platform, the negotiation of a long-term Renewable Energy Certificates purchase agreement with Meta Inc. in connection with a solar project in California, the negotiation of long-term virtual power and purchase agreements of utility-scale solar facilities in the Northeast involving AT&T and Vitol’s investment in FlexGen Power Systems, a software technology provider for energy storage solutions.
Citing Conn’s extraordinary success, the Houston Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and The Texas Lawbook award the Vitol Associate GC with the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Senior Counsel of the Year for a Large Legal Department.
When it Comes to Diversity & Inclusion, HPE ‘Just Gets It’
Over the last several years, general counsel Rishi Varma and associate general counsel Jude Andre have implemented a number of diversity initiatives at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, whose corporate legal department is known for its innovation, welcoming culture and commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession. The result has been a more engaged workforce around DEI issues and recognition by the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook. They have named HPE — with Varma and Andre at the helm — as finalists for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion award.
Will Marsh: This Son-of-a-Son-of-a-Lawyer Deals in the Complex
On what he later described as his best day as GC of Cactus Inc., a Houston-based wellhead and pressure-control provider, Will Marsh brought in the $621 million acquisition of tubing manufacturer FlexSteel Technologies Holdings.
The transformational deal marked a pretty good day for Cactus, as well. And now Marsh, Cactus and Bracewell, their outside counsel, are finalists in the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Awards for M&A Transaction of the Year.
Eleox GC Becky Gottsegen Helps Energy Giants Work Toward a Common Goal
In the fall 2021, six large North American energy companies that vigorously compete against each other formed a joint venture that used real-time digital technology that would help them resolve certain operational inefficiencies in natural gas post-trade processing. But the new JV, Eleox, needed a GC. They chose Becky Gottsegen.
“One of my strengths is building. I like making things happen,” Gottsegen said. And that is an understatement. She has done everything during her first 16 months — negotiating contracts with business partners, handling antitrust concerns, ensuring cybersecurity and data protection, getting the six energy giants to agree on SaaS agreement terms, filing patent applications, helping pick brand colors and even “finding hip Heights office space.” Gottsegen is also a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for General Counsel of the Year for a Solo Legal Department.
BMC Legal Team Needed ‘Sheer Tenacity, Strategy and Endurance’ to Win $1.6B Award
BMC Software GC Pat Tagtow and his senior counsel, Sarah Menendez, spent five years litigating and two weeks at trial claiming that competitor but sometimes business partner IBM made a “material misrepresentation” and acted in “bad faith” during contract negotiations when it agreed to not displace BMC’s products from AT&T’s mainframe systems but did so anyway. There were 52 depositions, 17 expert reports, hundreds of thousands of pages of documents produced as evidence and more than 950 court docket entries.
But last Memorial Day, Tagtow, Menendez and lead trial lawyer Sean Gorman spent all day checking phone messages and emails every 30 minutes and refreshing PACER to see if the judge had issued his verdict. A billion dollars was at stake. Finally, just as the Menendezes sat down to a dinner of buttermilk brined baked chicken, biscuits and slaw, the decision arrived. This is the story behind the three people who led the litigation and why it is a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for Business Litigation of the Year.
Raymond Chang ‘Takes Extreme Ownership of Everything’ at DNOW
DistributionNOW GC Raymond Chang and his colleagues noticed a wave of sudden worker departures at its Odessa Pumps business. A speedy internal investigation was followed by a quick lawsuit in which the global supplier of oil and gas drilling equipment and parts accused an Odessa businessman and other former workers of stealing confidential information and trade secrets. The case went to trial five months later ending with a jury unanimously finding in DNOW’s favor and awarding $9 million in damages.
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook have named Chang as the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for General Counsel of the Year for a Midsized Legal Department. This is his story.
Q&A: Raymond Chang
For Premium Subscribers: When Raymond Chang noticed in the spring 2022 that a wave of key workers at DistributionNOW were leaving in a “coordinated mass exodus,” he felt the need to investigate. That investigation revealed that the employees, including a senior executive, were planning to create a competitive venture using stolen company property. The result was a lawsuit that resulted in a $9 million jury verdict. .
Lawbook founder Mark Curriden asked Chang, has been named 2022 ACC General Counsel of the Year for a Midsized Legal Department, about his experience, what he looks for in outside counsel and his other successes at DistributionNOW.
Honeywell’s Dionne Hamilton: ‘’Pragmatic Leader with an Uncanny Ability to Demand Respect’
Honeywell Smart Energy GC Dionne Hamilton has scored several successes during her 30 months on the job, including leading the legal department’s role in the company’s launch of revolutionary gas meter technology that monitors residential and commercial activities in real time and stops incidents before they occur. She advises senior corporate leadership on all legal issues, new regulatory activities and geopolitical subjects that impact operations, works on M&A and joint ventures and manages all aspects of the legal budget. Hamilton is also national leader on DEI.
The Association of Corporate Counsel’s Houston Chapter and The Texas Lawbook have named the UT Law graduate a finalist for the 2023 Houston Corporate Counsel Award for General Counsel of the Year for a Large Legal Department.