Akin Gump has added Michael J. Byrd as a partner in the firm’s energy practice in Houston. Byrd is an experienced and recognized attorney in the oil and gas industry, whose practice emphasizes upstream merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions. He comes to Akin Gump from Baker & McKenzie, where he served as chair of that firm’s North American oil and gas practice group.
“The energy industry and the development of a preeminent global energy practice continue to be key focuses for us,” said Kim Koopersmith, Akin Gump chairperson. “Mike represents yet another outstanding addition to our team and further solidifies Akin Gump’s stature as a go-to firm in the energy sector. He has an exceptional reputation and a breadth of experience that will resonate strongly with our clients, and I am delighted to welcome him to the firm.”
Byrd counsels clients in acquisitions and divestitures of producing properties and oil and gas companies and provides advice on a wide range of upstream transactions, such as farmouts, exploration agreements and other joint ventures, operating agreements and seismic agreements. He also works with oil and gas companies on issues affecting day-to-day operations and represents clients in leasing and conveyancing transactions. Byrd has extensive experience in U.S. shale areas.
“As a real ‘dirt’ lawyer, one of the very few out there, Mike brings sought-after skills and experience that will mesh exceedingly well with those of our team,” said Chris LaFollette, partner in charge of Akin Gump’s Houston office and head of the firm’s oil and gas practice. “The caliber of work he has done throughout his career will make Mike a valuable asset for our clients, and I am excited to have him as part of our team.”
In addition to his transactional and operational work, Byrd also represents clients in various oil and gas litigation matters. In the past, he has worked on disputes involving trespass and conversion, breach of contract, lease termination, nonpayment of royalty, surface access, operating agreements and title and environmental defects asserted in connection with purchases of producing properties.
“With private equity playing a dramatically increasing role in oil and gas transactions, Akin Gump’s standing as a leader in both the energy and private equity spaces will be critical in the years ahead,” Byrd said. “I look forward not only to assisting the firm’s funds clients in their oil and gas transactions, but also to introducing my clients, both public and private, to Akin Gump’s renowned corporate and securities and private equity teams.”
A former petroleum landman, Byrd is certified in oil, gas and mineral law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a five-time chairman of the committee that writes and grades the exam for such certification. He is a frequent speaker and author who has published numerous articles on energy matters for publications such as the State Bar of Texas Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Law Section Report and Landman.