Energy Law

IEL’s FOCUS 2023

Taking Charge of Your Legal Career

Houston, Texas, USA

Past Event

Norris Conference Centers - Houston/CityCentre
816 Town & Country Blvd., Suite 210
Houston, Texas 77024

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Registrar: +1.972.244.3403
IEL: +1.972.244.3421
Fax: +1.972.244.3401


This in-person program is designed primarily for younger lawyers in their first 12 years of practice but is open to everyone. It is designed to address career related topics that may help attendees to take charge of their careers. These topics include advice from energy industry and legal leaders who have had a successful career. It will also include discussions on important topics such as communication, branding, building a book of business, and managing teams and projects.

Space is limited for this conference, because it will be attended by many of IEL’s 6th Leadership Class members. If the program sells out, a waitlist will be created.

Registration Fees

  • $200 - Regular Registration Fee
  • $150 - IEL Advisory Board, YEP and Law Student Members
  • $150 - Employees of IEL Sustaining and Supporting Members

Schedule and Faculty

8:30 a.m. - Continental Breakfast and Check-In

9:00 – 9:10 a.m. - Welcome, Overview and Introductions

9:10 – 10:00 a.m. - A Fireside Chat About Obtaining Success as an Energy Lawyer

This session will provide valuable guidance on having a successful legal career for in-house and attorneys in private practice drawing inspiration from the successful career and achievements of James Cowan. Mr. Cowan is currently the US Head of Legal and Associate General Counsel Litigation, US & Canada at Shell USA, Inc.

Before joining Shell in 2003, Mr. Cowan started his career as a trial lawyer in private practice in Houston. He oversaw commercial litigation matters for Shell companies in the US from 2003 to 2012. From 2012 to 2015, he served in Rio de Janeiro as Managing Counsel Litigation—Latin America & Caribbean. From 2015 to 2020, he served as Associate General Counsel, Litigation—International from London. He returned to Houston in 2020 to serve as Associate General Counsel Litigation—Americas.

In his current role, which he began in March 2022, Mr. Cowan has led the US Legal Coordination Team and the team handling disputes for Shell’s US Downstream, Trading & Supply, and cross-business matters and for its Canadian businesses.

James Cowan, Head of Legal US and Associate General Counsel Litigation US & Canada, Shell USA, Inc., Houston, Texas

Interviewed by: Lauren Wygant Woodard, Senior Legal Counsel - R&ES Americas, Shell USA, Inc., Houston, Texas

10:00 – 11:00 a.m. An Attorney’s Guide to Being Successful at Business in a Private Practice Setting

Achieving financial success as an attorney in a business setting is about much more than being smart or having legal prowess. It requires adeptness in client development and dedicated commitment to establishing and nurturing a solid book of business. This session features accomplished attorneys who have attracted clients and successfully developed legal practices in a variety of firm settings. The panel will discuss their experiences, detailing both successful and unsuccessful efforts, and provide suggestions on effectively attracting clients, maintaining their satisfaction, and expanding your professional influence and outreach.

Moderator: Matt Eagan, General Counsel, Ocelot Energy Management LLC, Dallas, Texas


  • Alexander Kuiper, Managing Partner, Kuiper Law Firm, Houston, Texas
  • Tracy N. LeRoy, Partner, Yetter Coleman LLP, Houston, Texas
  • Demetra Liggins, Partner, McGuireWoods LLP, Houston, Texas

11:00 – 11:15 a.m. - BREAK

11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. - Navigating Three Critical Conversations

Conversations are the building blocks of any successful relationship. The way we prepare for, engage, and actively listen to our colleagues and clients can begin a relationship on the right note, reinforce a relationship and even deepen a relationship despite having to tackle difficult and uncomfortable conversations. This program will focus on the best practices associated with three critical conversations: soliciting and acting on feedback, proactively managing expectations and self-advocacy. Attendees will leave this program with:

  • An understanding of the three Vs of effective communication
  • Best practices in soliciting feedback, including when to ask and how to ask for feedback
  • Strategies for managing expectations
  • How to “dream out loud” to get what they want

Holly L. Barocio, Managing Director, GrowthPlay, Chicago, Illinois

12:30 – 1:35 p.m. - Networking Luncheon and Group Discussion

1:35 – 1:45 p.m. - BREAK

1:45 – 2:45 p.m. Excelling as a Leader and Manager in a Legal Setting

Early success for young lawyers often depends on performing tasks provided by others. At the same time, leadership opportunities exist even when you do not have a leadership title.

As a lawyer gains experience and assumes greater responsibilities, success begins to be determined by the ability to effectively lead and manage teams and projects.

This session will feature experienced leaders and managers from diverse practice settings sharing their insights on what makes a great manager and leader. The session will look at mistakes leaders make and offer suggestions on how to avoid and recover from them. Additionally, attendees will receive valuable guidance on enhancing and developing their management capabilities and leadership skills.

Moderator: Islara Rodriguez Irgit, Counsel, Corporate Affairs and Strategy Law, Chevron, Houston, Texas


  • Naana Danquah Jefferson, General Counsel, Americas Land, SLB, Houston, Texas
  • Elizabeth Matthews, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Head of Government Affairs, and Corporate Secretary, Bristow Group, Houston, Texas
  • Kevin O’Gorman, Head of Arbitration, Partner-in-Charge of Houston Office, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, Houston, Texas

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. - BREAK

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. - The Power of Personal Branding

Whether we realize it or not, the people with whom we work have a certain perception or brand image of us. Some of us have consciously and deliberately created that image, but most of us have just been doing our jobs and our brand has emerged for us. This program provides a framework for attendees to evaluate their current brand and align their brand in a way that demonstrates value to those who matter most. In addition, participants will learn how to reinforce this brand through everyday interactions, such as networking environments, and the best practices associated with networking in a way that works for one’s style and serves others.

Attendees will learn:

  • The three components that create their personal brand
  • How to identify their most important internal and external stakeholders
  • Best practices for networking and relationship building with those internal and external stakeholder

Holly L. Barocio, Managing Director, GrowthPlay, Chicago, Illinois

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. - Networking Reception

Sponsorship Opportunities

Breakfast Sponsor - $3,000 (exclusive)

  • Recognition in all marketing, which will be sent to several thousand interested counsel and business leaders
  • Company/firm logo prominently displayed in the Conference brochure, final program and conference break slides
  • Recognition at the event
  • 2 complimentary registrants at the Conference
  • A table for display of company/firm materials at the conference

Luncheon Sponsor - $2,000 (Limited to 4)

  • Recognition in all marketing, which will be sent to several thousand interested counsel and business leaders
  • Company/firm logo prominently displayed in the Conference brochure, final program and conference break slides
  • Recognition at the event
  • 2 complimentary registrants at the Conference
  • A table for display of company/firm materials at the conference

Reception Sponsor - $1,500 (Limited to 4)

  • Recognition in all marketing, which will be sent to several thousand interested counsel and business leaders
  • Company/firm logo prominently displayed in the Conference brochure, final program and conference break slides
  • Recognition at the event
  • 1 complimentary registrant at the Conference
  • A table for display of company/firm materials at the conference

For more information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Lilly Hogarth, Sponsorship Director at or (972) 244-3424.

Overnight Accommodations

IEL has not arranged a hotel block for this conference, but there are numerous hotel options near the Norris Conference Center. A partial list of potential hotels or motels is included by clicking on the button below. (Note that descriptions and services may have changed for the hotels). 


Other Information

Press Policy

All IEL conferences are held under the Chatham House Rule. Participants, including journalists, are free to use any information received, but comments may not be attributed to any speaker identifi ed by name or affiliation.

Photo/Audio/Video Release

Registration for or attendance at this event acknowledges consent to be recorded or photographed. We reserve the right to use any photograph/video taken at our events, without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video. We may use the photograph/video in publications or other media material produced, used or contracted including but not limited to: brochures, invitations, books, newspapers, magazines, television, websites, annual reports, newsletters, etc. To ensure the privacy of individuals, images will not be identified using full names or personal identifying information without written approval from the photographed subject

Visa Information

If you require a letter of invitation to obtain a visa for this conference, payment of the registration fee must first be made.  If you apply and do not receive a visa, please send us a copy of the rejection letter from the consulate, and we will cancel your registration and issue a refund. Please email for more details.

Nondiscriminatory Policy

The Center for American and International Law does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other protected status in educational activities, scholarship programs or admissions.

Privacy Policy

We do not sell or rent information to any outside parties. By providing your information, you will receive postal and electronic communications from the Institute for Energy Law (IEL) of The Center for American and International Law (CAIL) in accordance with CAIL's Privacy Policy. If we co-sponsor a program with another organization, information may be shared between the parties. All such co-sponsors will be identified on the event details and registration page. At any point, you can opt-out or unsubscribe by selecting either link at the bottom of each email or call us at 972.244.3400.

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