Akshar Patel has always been a prodigy, graduating summa cum laude at 19 and law school at 21, where he was an editor at SMU Dedman School of Law’s International Law Journal. He had four years of corporate law practice on his resume and was associate general counsel at Flowserve Corporation at 26. Now a ripe old 38, Patel is the corporate secretary and vice president of legal at Pioneer Natural Resources, where he played a critical role in the October 2023 $64.5 billion acquisition of Pioneer by Exxon Mobil.
The Lawbook visited with Patel about his best day working at Pioneer and factors he considers when hiring outside counsel.
Texas Lawbook: What has been your best day working at Pioneer?
Akshar Patel: It is truly difficult to pick one. Every day feels like the best day. As stated [earlier], Pioneer is a unique place with a bunch of high-achieving people with strong work ethics and capabilities. Yet it is a place that is filled with humility and genuine care and generosity for your coworkers. It’s a culture that our founder, Scott Sheffield, has instilled over his over 40 years at the company and is still maintained by our current CEO and leadership team.
Lawbook: What are the factors you consider when deciding about hiring outside counsel?
Patel: Strong business acumen and having an in depth understanding of my business and its goals. I like to partner with lawyers that can get to the “heart of the matter” quickly and provide actionable advice.
Lawbook: How does the role of diversity impact your decision to hire outside counsel?
Patel: Diversity is very important to me when hiring outside counsel. I am very deliberate in partnering with law firms and lawyers that I find are moving the needle on diversity in the profession.
Lawbook: What does outside counsel need to know about you?
Patel: I tend to move quickly when it comes to distilling a lot of information to the most important, strategic aspects. I expect the same from outside counsel.
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