Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day? Forum

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anon121

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Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by anon121 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:33 pm

Are there any renewable energy/clean tech lawyers out there who would be willing to share what their typical day is like? What drew you to the practice? What are the best and worst aspects of the practice? What are the exit opportunities like?

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Re: Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Apr 08, 2021 10:22 pm

anon121 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:33 pm
Are there any renewable energy/clean tech lawyers out there who would be willing to share what their typical day is like?
I'm a V10 junior who's done 50%-75% renewable energy/clean "tech" deals since I started. I don't know what to tell you. It's the cookie cutter definition of biglaw.

10:00AM-10:30AM - Wake up. Check email on my phone, usually no action items. Drop in my timers for yesterday, and put in 0.1s for any matter where I checked emails on my phone.

10:30AM-12:00PM - Take care of backburner items. Bullshit with friends on internal IM system.

12:00PM-1:00PM - Cook lunch. Eat. Sometimes, I'll ping a bunch of friends and work from a restaurant.

1:00PM - 5:00PM - Tasks usually start rolling in at about this time. It's just junior M&A work (due diligence charts, update checklist, execute and compile agreements, redline shit, NDAs, scrubs, draft resolutions). I also do a chunk of CapM work, and that's you know--same shit (churn ancillary docs).

5:00PM - 8:00PM - Get bored. Hang out with friends who live in the same apartment complex while still kind of working in the background. Sometimes there are calls. On Fridays, work usually ends sometime around this time--usually closer to 8 than 5.

8:00PM - 10:00PM - Go to the gym for about an hour. Continue working. Maybe once a month, I'll get a "no one sleep tonight" email at about this time.

10:00PM - 11:00PM - Slowing down on productivity, but the clock still runs.

11:00PM - 12:00AM - Put down work laptop and turn to personal laptop to check social media and waste time on YouTube.

12:00AM to 1:00AM - Switch from personal laptop to phone. Pass out.

Repeat 7 days/week for 2.5/4 weeks per month. I usually get 1-2 weekends to myself per month.
anon121 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:33 pm
What drew you to the practice?
Nothing. I came to Texas for the cheap COL and lack of taxes. It just so happens that investors decided to only invest in financial dumpster fires about the time that I started.
anon121 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 8:33 pm
What are the best and worst aspects of the practice?
I mean--it's like the best job on the planet. I'm paid ridiculous amounts of money to bullshit with my friends and copy and paste shit all day. The work is mindless enough that you could watch TV all day. I'm probably one of the higher billers but by no means the top. I'm probably in the wide, middle band of average juniors. I'm responsive, do decent work, and am on track for 2,200 this year.

The bad side of the job is dealing with A. people who don't "get it" with regard to biglaw life just randomly checking out for long weekends/Friday evenings even if it's the run-up to a signing/closing or an actual live signing/closing and B. people would rather develop health problems and be hopped up on 2-3 substances most days than to leave an assignment to the morning that the senior said explicitly could wait until the morning. These people work themselves into misery then get together to bitch about how miserable they are and dirty-eye you if you mention that you're not on track for 3,000 hours for the year.

The worst is when group B's mentality about work infects group A, resulting in situations where people who think that a 200-hour month is armageddon will never say no and send out shitty work and randomly disappear on 12 matters than to just do a decent job on 5.

What are the exit opportunities like?

I have none due to lack of seniority. Well, I have some due to exigent, identifying circumstances, but most people have none. Mid-levels exit to ~200k-~300k jobs with better work life balance. Their seniority usually has a inverse correlation to the size of the company (i.e. senior counsel at F500 v. Assistant/Associate GC at medium-sized companies v. GC at small, PE-backed companies).

West coast exits to actual tech companies or Boston exits to life science companies probably pay better, but with COL/tax considerations thrown in, it probably all nets out.

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Re: Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:45 pm

Agree that it's typical biglaw but my experience is not the same as the other anon. Many of my clients are NY-based so I'm not just waking up and checking my phone at 11 EST, most days start at 10 EST but starting at 9 or even 8 EST isn't unheard of if things are busy. I'm also a senior associate but I tended to start even earlier as a junior.

My days aren't structured the same at all. Everything is an exercise in prioritization. Closings are obviously top of the priority chain -- if a closing is happening, everyone is all hands on deck and we may have multiple closing calls before a wire deadline, plus the frantic document changes and checking in missing deliverables that always come in like a half hour before the deadline. Next in priority are the substantive calls with either the client or the other side-- going through issues in documents, etc. After that is substantive work -- reviewing/revising docs, putting together diligence charts. Similarly situated is important structural stuff -- assigning the juniors their tasks, making sure everyone (both more senior and more junior) are prioritizing the right tasks, making decisions about how intensive our diligence needs to be, getting the other side docs they need to be focused on as well. Below that are non-substantive (checklist) calls -- I try to have the juniors lead these with minimal interference, but a lot of juniors don't want to so I'll end up leading it (especially if the client or business team on the other side is on). There's also deal administration -- talking to local counsel, farming out diligence review to our internal specialists and answering their questions, etc. Below that is firm admin stuff -- I'm involved in recruiting, and I also have to handle the billing for some of the partners I work for. Client development stuff (networking groups, conferences, client alerts, etc.) is also becoming more important as I become more senior.

Things flex up or down depending on the day, the week, the month (or even the year). This year I went from 50% utilized in January to 135% in March. Obviously a random day in each of those months would be very different. I always take time to walk my dog in the morning (at least 30 mins, on nice days where work is slow we'll frequently do an hour) and I always take off a couple hours at night for dinner and bedtime with my kids. My spouse is very understanding and takes over childcare when needed and we get a lot of help. The rest of my working day is making my way through the prioritization chain. I usually log off around 10, and try to keep my weekend hours to 1-2 a day if possible (but I can't say a 10-20 hour weekend is unheard of in the lead-up to closing).

This is all post-COVID. Pre-COVID, with commuting, business travel (there was a surprisingly high amount of this in renewables deals) and spending time doing firm events, things were a lot more chaotic. WFH and probably more importantly the reduction to 0 for business travel has made things a lot more manageable, but I also miss interacting with the people I work with, because I genuinely like most of them. I'll welcome some of the in-person stuff back, but I expect my own, the partners' and the juniors' facetime will all be dramatically reduced compared to pre-COVID.

The good thing about having an industry-focused job is that I feel like there are a lot possible exit options to our clients. The pay doesn't seem to be great vis. other in-house jobs, and the ability to advance seems to be an uphill battle, but that's similar to many in-house jobs. But I feel like there's a lot of opportunity, especially if you aren't geographically limited.

Other than having a job that is industry-focused rather than doing a specific type of work for multiple clients, things aren't that different just because you're doing renewables work. You need to understand the basics of how a project actually generates electricity, gets that electricity to its customers, and the various types of structures there are for receiving money or credits for that electricity. You need to understand the basics of the tax incentives the projects are eligible for and how they obtain and maintain that eligibility. You need to be able to differentiate the risks during the development stage, construction stage, and operational stage. You need to be able to separate the concerns of a tax or cash equity investor, a purchaser of the project, or a lender. You need to know enough real estate, environmental, regulatory, and tax to be dangerous, but to always, always defer to the people who are experts in those fields. You don't need to know any of this on day 1, but as a mid-level, you should have a basic comprehension of almost all of it, so that's a steep uphill climb if you don't have any sort of background in this space (I didn't).

Happy to try to answer any specific questions.

anon121

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Re: Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by anon121 » Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:51 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:45 pm
Happy to try to answer any specific questions.
- Is renewable energy entirely a transactional practice (in your experience), or is there some regulatory/litigation involved in it as well?

- Who do you think are the top firms in this area? It seems like a lot of firms "claim" to have a renewable energy/clean tech practice, but maybe have a handful of attorneys actually working in this area.

- You mentioned that you traveled quite a bit pre-COVID. Did you get to travel to project sites?

- Where do you see this practice going in the future? Will it continue to grow?

Thanks for your time!

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Re: Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:13 pm

anon121 wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:45 pm
Happy to try to answer any specific questions.
- Is renewable energy entirely a transactional practice (in your experience), or is there some regulatory/litigation involved in it as well?

- Who do you think are the top firms in this area? It seems like a lot of firms "claim" to have a renewable energy/clean tech practice, but maybe have a handful of attorneys actually working in this area.

- You mentioned that you traveled quite a bit pre-COVID. Did you get to travel to project sites?

- Where do you see this practice going in the future? Will it continue to grow?

Thanks for your time!
I am a different poster and an environmental/land use attorney that does regulatory/litigation work associated with renewable energy (solar and wind). Very broadly the work involves dealing with agencies to obtain whatever approvals/entitlements are needed for the project (e.g., rights-of-ways over public land), reviewing and drafting NEPA documents or other related regulatory schemes, and then eventually litigating the project when approvals get challenged by project opponents. Those elements would be applicable to any big environmental/land use project, however, and aren't really specific to renewable energy. There are also regulatory specialists who help out on due diligence to support transactional deals, but I think that those tend to be even more niche than the stuff I do.

Transactional renewable energy/clean tech is a much larger practice.

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Re: Any Renewable Energy/Clean Teach Lawyers Want to Share Their Typcial Day-to-Day?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Apr 11, 2021 10:47 pm

anon121 wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:51 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 4:45 pm
Happy to try to answer any specific questions.
- Is renewable energy entirely a transactional practice (in your experience), or is there some regulatory/litigation involved in it as well?

- Who do you think are the top firms in this area? It seems like a lot of firms "claim" to have a renewable energy/clean tech practice, but maybe have a handful of attorneys actually working in this area.

- You mentioned that you traveled quite a bit pre-COVID. Did you get to travel to project sites?

- Where do you see this practice going in the future? Will it continue to grow?

Thanks for your time!
Definitely involves a lot of regulatory work, but even a large firm only needs 1-2 regulatory attorneys (and a lot more transactional attorneys). Smaller firms will have regulatory capabilities but those attorneys would not be renewables-specific, likely wouldn't even be energy-specific. On the litigation front, in my experience you won't have an industry-based litigation practice. At our firm we had a huge case for one of our largest clients, based around an M&A for a renewables project, and it took many years, likely on the better side of a decade. But none of those litigators are industry limited -- they just know how to litigate, and their "specialty" is just litigation.

Lots of firms do this work, but an easy metric is to make sure that the firm has at least one good tax partner. You cannot have a full service renewables practice without a tax partner (almost every deal you'll work on will have some connection to a tax equity structure), and they are highly sought after.

I have not yet been to a project site although I've had a couple of opportunities but it just didn't end up working out because of other conflicts. If I did go, it would be a "cool perk" trip, and not a work trip that (in the clients' view) would actually get the deal closed. So... no! But I hope to someday get up into a wind turbine.

As was the case for a lot of people, one of the worst days in my practice was the day after Trump was elected. My entire practice group was dour that day, not least of which because Obama-era regulations and tax bills made the practice what it is and all of us were worried what a GOP trifecta meant for the industry we were all serving. But the group survived and, yes, thrived under Trump. There is largely bipartisan support for renewables (red state legislatures pass state-level incentives all the time), and Biden has made it a cornerstone of his administration, mixed with plenty of financial institutions passing very wide-reaching ESG goals, so the influx of cash is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.

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