Julia Sullivan Talks to Law360, Offers Advice on FERC Investigations

For its article “6 Ways To Weather A FERC Enforcement Probe,” Law360 spoke with Akin Gump energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice co-head Julia Sullivan on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s increased enforcement efforts.

On the topic of legal representation in the event of a FERC investigation, particularly when the interests of a company and an individual employee diverge, Sullivan noted the possible need for the employee to seek his or her own representation: "For example, if you were involved in the alleged conduct, you may think, 'I can defend what I did and I want to litigate,' and the company may think, 'I don't want to take the reputational risk, I just want this thing to go away and settle.’ You may also have other information to provide to FERC and be more willing to cooperate with them."

She also discussed the fact that, once the FERC makes an enforcement investigation public, companies should have a plan in place to deal with the attendant consequences and ripples: “There's a possibility of related investigations. Energy markets are closely watched by the Hill.”

Regarding the possibility of challenging a FERC enforcement action—which few companies to date have done—Sullivan noted that having little prior case law complicates a company’s evaluation of its situation: “To be the first company to litigate the issue is risky and puts you in headlines that you don't want to be in. I would still think hard about having separate litigation and settlement counsel.”