Vinson & Elkins (V&E) is a Houston-based global law firm with more than 700 attorneys located in 13 offices across the US and abroad. Known for its expertise in the Energy industry, V&E is also a full-service law firm with presence in litigation and corporate practice. While still remembered for its pivotal role in the Enron collapse, the firm is regarded as one of the top three Texas firms in terms of prestige and compensation.
The lawyers and legal practices at V&E are consistently ranked among the best in the legal profession by prominent publications.
The firm is currently led by Mark Kelly as Chairman and Scott Wulfe as Managing Partner. In 2011, the firm's gross revenues stood at $602.5 million. The revenues and profits per partner each increased less than 1% for the year.
Vinson & Elkins LLP began its law practice as a two-man partnership in 1917, when James A. Elkins and William A. Vinson joined professional. During the oil boom regime in early 20th century, Houston became a home to much of the energy industry's activity. V&E took up the opportunity at the right time and today, the firm has expanded its practices to include Mergers and Acquisitions, Aviation, Environmental, Finance, and more.
Gradually with expanding market potential, Vinson & Elkins expanded its offices in Europe, Gulf and Asia.
Areas of practice
Capital Markets and Securities
Corporate Governance and Compliance
Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs)
Mergers and Acquisitions
Islamic Finance and Investment
Project Finance and Development
Restructuring and Reorganization
Restructuring and Reorganization
Employee Benefits and Executive
Federal Income Tax
State and Local Tax
Tax-Exempt Organizations and Finance
Labor and OSHA
Labor and OSHA
International Employment and Labor Issues
Labor and Employment Issues in Transactions
Occupational Safety and Health Law
Restrictive Covenant Litigation
Whistleblower Counseling and Defense
Environmental Litigation and Regulation
Accounting Firm Representation
Admiralty and Maritime
Arbitration and ADR
Class Actions and Multi-District Litigation
Commercial and Business Litigation
Condemnation and Land Use
Director and Officer Liability
Energy/Oil and Gas Litigation
ERISA Class Actions
False Claims/Qui Tam Litigation
Financial Institutions Litigation
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Government Contracts Litigation
Insurance Coverage Litigation
International Dispute Resolution
Securities Litigation and Enforcement
Intellectual Property Counseling
Intellectual Property Licensing
Intellectual Property Litigation
Intellectual Property Prosecution
The firm has advised numerous corporate and private enterprises for varied legal assistance. A few notables and recent cases among the many are mentioned below:
Vinson & Elkins advised Pioneer Natural Resources Company in the sale of all of its South African assets to PetroSA, the national oil company of South Africa. The assets in question include two producing properties offshore South Africa - the Sable oil field and the South Coast gas project, which began production in 2003 and 2008 respectively.
The firm advised Vedanta Resources firm, Cairn India Group on its acquisition of a 60-percent interest in Block 1 in the Orange Basin offshore the west coast of South Africa and along the northwestern maritime border of South Africa and Namibia.
Vinson & Elkins' client the Port of Houston Authority registered a victory in the Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Houston in a long-running contractual dispute with Zachry Construction Corporation. A Harris County District Court entered a judgment awarding Zachry $23.4 million, but the Fourteenth Court of Appeals reversed that judgment.
V&E advised Uz-Kor Gas Chemical LLC on the development, financing, and construction of its USD 3.9 billion integrated upstream gas and petrochemical complex in the Ustyurt region of Uzbekistan, which is scheduled to come on stream in 2016. On May 19, 2012, Uz-Kor and its lenders signed key finance documents for the USD 2.54 billion project debt financing of the project.
V&E served as counsel to long-time client BMC Software, Inc., in its $300 million acquisition of Numara Software, a leading global provider of integrated IT management solutions for the mid-market.
Also, in a noteworthy apparent exception to this success saga of V&E, the firm represented Enron. After collecting $162 million from the infamously scandal-ridden company between 1998 and 2001, V&E ended up paying Enron's bankruptcy estate $30 million to avoid going to trial over accusations that it had turned a blind eye to rampant accounting malfeasance. The firm admitted no wrongdoing under the terms of the 2006 settlement.
Awards and recognitions
Vinson & Elkins has been recognized by many energy sector publications for its contribution in the energy law. Also, the firm has received several awards for its performance in the law field.
It has been recognised as 'The World's Leading Energy Law Firm' by Euromoney Magazine 2010 - 2011. In 2011, Chambers & Partners recognized V&E in Projects & Energy: Oil & Gas: Global-wide.
Vinson & Elkins ranked as the top law firm in the US in three practice areas for the 2012 Acquisition International M&A Awards. The firm was named 'SA Energy Law Firm of the Year,' 'USA Reorganization Law Firm of the Year,' and 'Environmental Litigation Law Firm of the Year - New York.'
The firm has ranked as a number one legal advisor in Infrastructure Journal's Project Finance League Tables (Corporate Finance, Financial Close) for the first half of 2012.
V&E considers academic achievement in law school and undergraduate school. It also considers school-related and extracurricular activities, work experience, foreign language proficiency, and the ability to communicate effectively.
It looks for individuals who encompass its mission and vision of academic excellence, teamwork, diversity and inclusion. The firm recruits through job fairs as well as through campus placements. It visited 27 schools for campus recruitment's in 2011 and attended two job fairs during the year.
V&E's commitment to promoting and encouraging diversity is illustrated by its policies, initiatives, and programs established within the firm, such as firm-supported organic Affinity Groups. The firm believes that it has both an extraordinary opportunity and a special responsibility to maintain a culture that nurtures diverse interests, backgrounds, and perspectives - inclusive of race, ethnicity, gender/gender-identity, age, sexual orientation, religion, or physical handicap.
Summer associate program
Vinson & Elkins has summer programs in each of its domestic offices. The program ranges from six to 10 weeks. The work is assigned by an attorney coordinator, and the assignments range from 'tangential issues' to 'important issues that would make a direct impact on litigation.'
Trainings are held during the first week of the summer, and after that there are optional practice group presentations. The firm also offers a Public Interest Split Summer Program, which allows two second-year law students the opportunity to spend the second half of their summer at a public interest organization while receiving the firm's weekly salary for up to six weeks.
In 2009, V&E gave offers to 74% of its 130 summer associates. In 2010, the firm reduced the size of the summer class to 72 members, but gave offers to 92% of them. For the summer program, the firm has set the compensation at USD 3077 per week.
Salary & benefits
Vinson & Elkins's starting salary ranges from $145,000 to $160,000, depending on the office. Firm's profits per equity partner in 2009 - the most recent year for which data are available - were $1,270,000,.
There is a set bonus for first-year associates; more senior associates are eligible for different bonus levels at 1,950, 2,150, and 2,300 hours.
A market leader among Texas firms, V&E was the first Texas-based firm to set first-year associate compensation at $160,000. However, the firm is said to have a confusing compensation system.
V&E also reimburses for a bar review course and exam expenses. Other benefits offered by V&E include laptop computers, access to a 24-hour concierge and errand service, monthly wine-tasting dinners for attorneys and guests, subsidized parking, and subsidized gym memberships.
401(k)/IRA/Other Retirement Plan
529 College Savings Plan
Bar Association Fees
Business Casual Dress Code
Domestic Partner Benefits
Employee Assistance Program
Family/Dependent Care Leave
Flexible Spending Account/Pre-Tax Option
Long-term Care Insurance
Long-term Disability Insurance
Medical Spending Account
Short-term Disability Insurance
Technology (Laptop, PDA, etc.)
Benefits Package: Large portion of medical, dental, life, and long-term disability insurance; savings plans; paid maternity leave; phase-in maternity leave return policy; flexible work arrangement opportunities; flexible benefit plan for medical and dependent care; ABA state and local bar organization memberships.
Laptop computers with remote access and Blackberry devices. Option for a $200 reimbursement on an alternative smart phone and a monthly data plan stipend.
Working for the Vinson & Elkins, LLP
At V&E, associates receive work through a department-specific work assignment system. First- through third-year associates are evaluated twice a year, and more senior associates are evaluated annually. As associates become more senior, mentors provide career direction and focus on helping associates develop the skills and expertise necessary to advance their careers.
Third-year associates, and those more senior, can take part in the eight-part Associate Practice Business Development course taught by V&E partners.
Some of the positives about the firm is that it offers interesting and challenging work, low-key, friendly work environment and responsibility early in career to the associates.
V&E has a one-tier partnership, and attorneys are generally eligible for consideration after eight years.
The pro bono program at Vinson & Elkins involves lawyers at all stages of the profession, from senior partners to fresh associates.
Nearly 30,000 hours of free legal service is provided to those in need by V&E lawyers each year.
However, V&E does not require attorneys to do pro bono work, but up to 100 hours of pro bono work is considered for billable hours and bonus consideration. In 2010, 74% of associates performed 36 hours of pro bono work each.
The lawyers have undertaken pro bono representation in civil, criminal and transactional matters.
In September 2012, the firm was honored for its pro bono work with Dubai Cares at the charity's fifth anniversary celebration in July. V&E has supported Dubai Cares on pro bono legal matters since its establishment by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum in 2007.
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