Law360 Profiles Energy MVP John Goodgame

Akin Gump oil and gas partner John Goodgame was profiled by Law360 as part of its selection of him as an Energy MVP. Goodgame, who handled major transactions over the past year totaling more than $21 billion, spoke of his most significant accomplishment, advice he has for young lawyers and what initially led him to be an energy lawyer at the start of his career.

Goodgame, the article notes, helped guide Stone Energy Corp. in late 2017 in its multibillion dollar merger with Talos Energy. (Click here to read about the deal.) He told Law360 he was responsible for advising company leadership, in addition to coordinating the work of antitrust, environmental, energy and other Akin Gump lawyers working on the deal.

“To some extent, it is kind of like being the conductor but also playing the trumpet at the same time as part of the band,” Goodgame said. There were, however, aspects of the deal that were difficult to navigate.

Describing some of the deal’s complexities, Goodgame said, “We ended up having to do a holding company reorg in connection with the transaction where we created a new public company effectively to take the place of the existing Stone and to acquire Talos at the same time. And [we] had to do a number of debt refinancing activities in connection with it all, as well as handle some complexities on the stockholder consent side.”

Young lawyers at the start of their careers, Goodgame advised, should look for quality mentors who care about the associate’s success. “It is not enough for someone to just provide you with a stream of billable hours, that person has to teach you and give you the opportunity to expand your skill set.” This includes “the skill sets of negotiating, of dealing with people on your side at your firm and your client and [those on] the other side."

Attending law school in Houston was Goodgame’s entree into energy law. As he recounts, he began working at Akin Gump to find that “if you are going to be a lawyer in Houston doing complicated deal work, it is a pretty good bet you are going to touch the energy business in one way or another.” The opportunities for lawyers, he said, are “fantastic.”

Goodgame also spoke of declining oil prices as a recent challenge he has faced. While it led to problems for clients, he said he felt lucky to be at a firm with a strong restructuring practice. As if speaking for the clients themselves, however, he added, “We like things better when we are in the boom times.”