Kirkland & Ellis builds energy offering in Washington DC with tax partner from Allen & Overy

Hire latest example of law firms responding to Biden administration’s $370bn clean energy subsidies

Sam Kamyans Image courtesy of Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis has hired a tax partner from Allen & Overy (A&O) in Washington DC as it targets energy transition and renewables work. 

Sam Kamyans has joined the firm as a partner after a little more than two years at A&O. His departure from the UK Magic Circle firm follows news last month that it is planning to merge with New York firm Shearman & Sterling, which he told had had “no impact” on his move. 

“Sam is a talented lawyer with deep experience at the intersection of tax and energy, particularly energy transition and renewables work, where we continue to see increased demand from our client base,” said Jon Ballis, chairman of Kirkland’s executive committee. “We’re very excited to welcome him to the firm.” 

Kamyans’ practice covers partnership tax structuring with a focus on energy transition projects and renewable energy infrastructure. He also has a background in oil and gas, meaning he can advise on the full range of energy transition transactions. His experience includes representing energy sponsors, private equity firms and public companies on complex M&A, financings, divestitures, equity extractions, distressed restructurings and public and private offerings. 

Prior to A&O, Kamyans had stints as a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Baker McKenzie. Earlier in his career he also worked at the Internal Revenue Service, where he provided national guidance on partnership and energy-related matters, and spent a year as tax counsel at Californian energy infrastructure company Sempra. 

“Sam’s skill set is valuable for clients across the firm, especially energy transition investors and companies navigating the evolving landscape of renewable energy transactions,” said Houston-based Andy Calder, a corporate partner and member of Kirkland’s executive committee. “We are looking forward to him joining our top-flight tax team and putting his experience to work for clients.”

Kirkland’s tax team is noted by Chambers and Partners for its skill at handling cross-border tax planning matters and counts a number of major energy and private equity companies including KKR, Noble Corporation, Ovintiv and Extraction Oil and Gas as clients. Globally the team houses around 175 lawyers, including leading practitioners like R David Wheat and Mark Dundon, both of whom are based in Texas and have worked extensively with the firm’s energy sector clients. 

“Kirkland has a premier private capital and energy practice that plays a pivotal role in financing energy transition matters,” Kamyans said. “Becoming a part of Kirkland’s team allows me to provide unparalleled support for clients working on one-of-a-kind transactions.” 

Kirkland said that since 2019 it had handled more than 150 renewable and clean energy transactions worth in excess of $105bn. 

Kamyans’ hire follows Kirkland building its energy offering in London last September with the hire of A&O’s global co-head of infrastructure, Sara Pickersgill, to lead its expansion in the European energy and infrastructure sector. The firm rapidly followed that with the hire of infrastructure finance partner Toby Parkinson from Clifford Chance to co-lead the effort alongside Pickersgill and shortly after added finance partner James Boswell to the team, also from Clifford Chance. 

Law firms have also been moving to bolster their energy offering in the US amid an expected boom in work in the sector fuelled by the Biden administration’s $370bn package of subsidies for clean energy.  

Among them are UK firms targeting energy work as a cornerstone of their US expansion efforts, with A&O’s Magic Circle rival Clifford Chance earlier this month announcing it was adding seven partners from firms including Latham & Watkins to open an energy-focused office in Houston.

And earlier in the year Linklaters added renewables partners Marius Griskonis and Judy Kwok in New York from White & Case and Troutman Pepper respectively, having added Ron Erlichman from Sidley Austin in New York late last year to head its US energy and infrastructure projects team.

An A&O spokesperson commented on the move: “Sam Kamyans has decided to leave Allen & Overy. We would like to thank him for the contribution he has made during his time at Allen & Overy and wish him all the best for the future.”

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