Kirkland & Ellis LLP said Monday that it hired a longtime tax lawyer from Baker Botts LLP to launch its tax practice group in Houston, a financial and professional services hub for some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.
Chad S. McCormick, who spent almost 10 years at Baker Botts and made partner there in 2014, has helped public and private energy companies keep their taxes down on billions of dollars in deals over the years. Although plunging oil prices have shaken the once-booming U.S. energy sector, McCormick said tax advice is still essential for energy companies' business planning.
“The issues I see most frequently, especially when you’re dealing with restructuring, is of course trying to plan for the client so that when they exit ... they’re still in an advantageous position for their tax attributes,” he told Law360. “The hope is to grow the tax practice here in Houston so that we can service this growing office and have an energy-specific tax group.”
The hiring of McCormick, who started on Monday as a partner, comes shortly after Kirkland hired two other tax attorneys in its growing Houston office. Zackary Pullin, another Baker Botts hire, joined the firm this year as a partner, and Joe Tobias joined the firm as an associate.
McCormick said he was drawn to Kirkland by its dynamism and the “tremendous platform” it offered. He praised the Houston office’s leadership, and said Dean Shulman, a prominent mergers and acquisitions tax lawyer in the firm’s New York office, and Todd Maynes, a bankruptcy and restructuring tax specialist in Chicago, were especially impressive figures who factored into his decision.
In his time at Baker Botts, McCormick worked on spin-offs, split-offs, mergers and acquisitions for energy companies including Chesapeake Energy Corp., Noble Corp. and Transocean, according to Kirkland’s website. He advised Chesapeake on the sale of $1.2 billion in upstream assets to private equity players and helped Transocean on multiple drilling-rig sales, including one deal involving 38 rigs. He also worked on deals for Liberty Media Corp. He declined to discuss the representations.
Going forward, McCormick said he had his eye on two frequently discussed policy changes that could affect his clients. One oft-proposed measure is scrapping percentage depletion, an important deduction for oil and gas clients. Another tax issue that has gotten lots of attention from politicians is inversions, or cross-border mergers that have drawn scrutiny and action from Congress and the White House because companies use them to relocate to jurisdictions with lower corporate tax rates.
McCormick is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Law. He received his Master of Laws degree from the University of Florida.
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