After considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion it’s time to act on something that has been moving from the back to the front of my mind over the past few months – departing my current role as Partner and Co-Chair of the Oil & Gas Practice at Perkins Coie, LLP and opening my own Alaska-based and focused oil and gas consulting firm.
In my opinion, Perkins Coie is in the top tier of Alaska law firms and it has been an honor over the past five years to partner not only with some of the most skilled lawyers in Alaska, but also the nation. Eric Fjelstad, the Managing Partner of the firm’s Anchorage office, is the best environmental and resource project lawyer with whom it has been my privilege to work at any point in my career and I look forward to continuing that relationship as future opportunities arise.
But there are certain limitations that come with that territory. First, lawyers in private practice by their very nature are retained to be advocates for their client’s positions. Frankly, at this moment in the state’s history I think Alaska needs some of its citizens to focus on finding solutions to the challenges facing the state. Pursuing those is not always consistent with representing individual client positions. Second, while the firm has been very tolerant and I have taken pains to make clear that the opinions I express on these pages and elsewhere are entirely my own, my commentary has not always been universally popular and that sometimes has made things challenging. Third, conflicts elsewhere in the firm sometimes have presented obstacles to undertaking opportunities where I believe I could have added value to Alaska. Those dynamics will be different in a smaller practice. Lastly, there may be other things I want to do in the future and now is a good time to start positioning myself to be able to pursue them.
Where the next step leads is not altogether clear. I will open Keithley Consulting, LLC on June 1. In my view, there is a large need in Alaska for someone able to advise on and find solutions to the challenges which confront the Alaska oil & gas sector. Over my 20 years of dealing with oil, gas and fiscal issues in this state, and based on my 35 years of practice overall, I have come to believe that Alaska’s challenges sometimes are simply the result of the industry and the state not understanding each other’s commercial environments, incentives, concerns and financial drivers. If nothing else, maybe I can serve simply as a translator between the two. Certainly, I will use some of the time to continue to drive home the points I have made on these pages about Alaska’s fiscal situation.
Wherever this leads, however, I will continue using these pages to discuss the issues that I think are critically important to Alaska’s future. We will see how it goes.
I will be working on a more formal structure as things go along, but as I work through the startup please feel free as always to reach me with thoughts, comments – or criticisms – at email@example.com, or any of the other contact information offered on these pages.