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Becoming an energy lawyer

Energy lawyers deal with matters involving the upstream and downstream oil and gas, coal, electricity, as well as renewable energy for wind and solar. Lawyers in the energy sector work across a wide range of industries and their clients include global oil and gas conglomerates, state owned government institutions, utility companies and producers of renewable energy.

We look at what the demand is like for energy lawyers, what type of skills you will need as well as the pros and cons of the job.

Strong demand

n Asia, Hong Kong, China and Singapore are where demand for energy lawyers are high. These cities have strong links to the commodities markets in China, which is expanding at a rapid pace. Firms and corporations are looking for candidates with experience with the LNG, natural gas and electricity sectors, oil and mining. Skill in project management, project finance, construction and anything in relation to commodities trading with China is also attractive to recruiters and employers in Asia.

Skills

This is a fast paced and challenging sector, so quick thinking and strong analytical skills are crucial. You will need to have at least three to five years’ of experience working with oil and gas, LNG, mining, power or renewable energy and must be able to handle complex transactions. You will need to be willing to travel frequently and good at communicating, building and developing relationships with clients. Experience in alternative energy, corporate mergers and acquisitions, construction and commercial contracts are useful. Language skill are also a plus and in Hong Kong and China, being able speak Mandarin is a major asset to the role and normally required.

Pros and cons

In the current market there are more pros than cons for a career in energy law. “This is a very remarkable area because the infrastructure for energy is booming. There are lots of projects going on in Asia and Australia too. With energy law experience, a lawyer can move into energy conglomerates. They will also learn highly transferable skills as they will be better exposed to complex international transactions,” says Johnny hui, Manager of Legal & Compliance division at Robert Walters Hong Kong. However, because it is a niche market, some practitioners find it difficult to transition back to general corporate law.

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