Natural gas derivatives. Energy management agreements. Deregulated energy commodities. To an outsider, these are mysterious terms. To Paul Vrana, they’re household names, as familiar to him as “cheeseburger with fries” and “reality TV” are to the rest of us.
That’s the case because he’s been practicing a very specialized branch of transactional law for more than 15 years, and he’s actively involved in the oil and gas, natural gas, and energy industries on a daily deal-making basis. It’s also because he worked in the energy industry for several years before entering the practice of law. This is his turf, and he knows it inside and out.
In Paul’s mind, that’s the only way to do business in this area of law. “The deregulated energy marketplace is changing continuously,” he says. “The laws change, the types of physical and financial energy products change, and the players change. The only way to stay in the game is to be active in the industry and busy doing deals.”
And so he is, spending hours every day hammering out transactions, checking in with industry contacts, and poring over documents. All of this hard work comes back to his clients in the form of unhesitating advice and confident guidance.
So, yes, he’s good at what he does. But what exactly does he do?
In layman’s terms, he helps his clients properly document transactions when they buy or sell energy commodities such as gas or power. He also helps his clients negotiate specialized transactions that might involve using bond financing, hedging assets, or taking long or short commodity positions.
Recently, he’s been working on transactions that involve pre-paying for natural gas with municipal bonds. In these innovative deals, municipalities and other entities can pre-pay for several years’ worth of natural gas at discounted prices. The pre-payments are financed with tax-free municipal bonds.
“The only way to stay in the game is to be active in the industry and busy doing deals.”
— Paul Vrana
The complexity of these novel transactions doesn’t deter Paul. On the contrary, he enjoys the challenge. “These transactions appeal to me because they’re very large and they involve other areas of the law like tax law, securities law, commodities law, derivatives law, etc.”
That explains what he does, but in a larger sense, what he really does is sweat the details so his clients don’t have to. They know that he knows — the energy industry and the contracts that dictate how business is done.
Confusing terms aside, that’s the kind of benefit everyone can understand.