Forward to a Friend  | July 31, 2007
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Bisnow on Business

Land America



Andrews Kurth is a storied Houston firm founded in 1902 that started as railroad focused but has long specialized in energy—oil, gas, electric, renewable, you name it. Of course, one thing leads to another, and it’s grown well beyond that. Now 400 attorneys with offices also in Austin, Dallas, the suburban Houston hi-tech corridor, DC, New York, London, and Beijing, it diversified over time partly by capturing lots of non-energy work for loyal energy clients. 


New DC managing partner Shemin Proctor, at her desk this afternoon.


DC is typical. Here AK started in 1978 when energy crisis was in the air, and now it has 30 attorneys, half of them still involved in energy in some way, but many also involved in litigation and business transactions, antitrust, environmental, IP, and securities, among other practices. True, they do have niche practices in church law and art law (recovering works that have ended up the wrong hands) that don’t seem to relate to energy, but then maybe we have not delved deeply enough in our research and made the connection.


Shemin with the sand bucket and card she sent everyone on July 1.


30 days ago, Shemin Proctor became the office’s Managing Partner. The DC native has been with the firm 16 years. On the day she assumed the post, she sent a printed card, with a rainbow border, to all her colleagues:

“Today is the first day of my tenure…I am excited about the opportunity to lead the office and ask for your support. We each play a role in ensuring that the attorneys in the D.C. office provide premium legal services to clients and that the office has a positive and enjoyable environment. The office is our sandbox and we should play well with others while we’re in it. This pail and shovel toy is a gentle and fun reminder of our responsibilities.”

As we walked around the office, we saw the symbolic buckets still on many desks, although some have placed flowers or papers in them, and evidently even more practical-minded colleagues have already deployed them to kids’ use on the beach this summer. But Shemin's charming sentiment clearly still echoes through the office.


She went to Harvard and Harvard Law, and, in a quest to see more of the world, worked during at least part of all three law school summers at AK offices in either Houston or LA. After clerking for US Southern District of Texas judge Kenneth Hoyt, she returned to the AK office in DC. “I picked a firm that I hoped to make partner at, and stay with. This has turned out to be just as I planned. ” And: “The place is very entrepreneurial. I was able to define my legal career as I see fit. Sometimes you get a 4th, 5th or 6th year itch. When that happened to me, I was able to pursue outside interests. Then, when I was up for partner, I felt the law firm supported me on that. I can fashion my practice as I see fit.”


That in turn has challenged her to find new practice areas to keep up the momentum of the office. Her five year plan is to double its size through picking up lawyers and practices that either add to existing groups or are complimentary in some way. She mentions the hypothetical of an international practice having to do with the same sorts of project finance, tax, and investment work they already do in Latin America or India, but simply in another geography. 


She’s an energy lawyer herself—representing clients to FERC and the like. And she hopes in the course of her active office management she can keep practicing hard.



Practicing … oh, you meant practicing. Proctor broke down and pulled out a hidden putter, buried behind a curtain. It didn’t take much sleuthing to figure out it was there: After all, GOLF for Women was splashed across her coffee table, and nearby was a photo of Congressional Country Club and Proctor with a golf pro. 


She’s been golfing at public courses for seven years, mainly on weekends, having taken it up when a partner “who was trying to convince me of the wonders of golf” brought a pro into the office to give lessons. She got hooked enough to play in the Pro-Am at the AT&T National over July 4, with Colombian Camilo Villegas in her foursome. Don’t be surprised if she talked to him about South American energy transactions. 


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