Led by Energy Industry Group leader Sheila Harvey and Renewable Energy practice leader Mona Dajani, Pillsbury launched one of the law industry’s first dedicated hydrogen practices as the energy sector moves towards cleaner energy and lower carbon emissions. See the official press release here. 

The new practice is gaining attention from several media outlets including Bloomberg Law, Law.com and Reuters. 

“We’re trying to stake out a place for the firm within the energy transition,” Harvey tells Bloomberg Law. “It’s trying to look at the future of the energy businesses as they move to respond to the pressures for cost-efficiency, decarbonization and other things.”

The new team will draw on the expertise of its attorneys in its existing practices, like litigation, finance, energy, start-ups, and insolvency, among others, according to Harvey. She noted that there are over 40 lawyers at the firm who have experience in the hydrogen sector.

Pillsbury’s hydrogen practice dovetails with its renewable energy practice, which under the leadership of Dajani, has already advised on high-profile projects for clients like Mitsubishi Power Americas on its hydrogen-ready power plant projects as well as hybrid solar and energy storage deals.

Pillsbury works with clients in the transportation technologies space who handle cars, trucks, aviation, shipping, and large-scale nuclear industry technologies as well as clients in the traditional power sectors that are converting to hydrogen as their fuel source, Dajani said.

“Hydrogen represents a major shift in technology and also in the natural gas supply and power generation infrastructure,” she said. The firm’s technology practice, which is primarily based in California, “really gives us a head start on understanding our client’s business.”

The firm is also extremely active in the European and Asian markets, particularly in Japan, said Dajani, where the advancement of hydrogen-based energy has been a priority.

“It’s not just the work streams that we have,” Dajani said of the firm, “but we also have geographic points where we’re able to gather market intelligence on a global basis because a lot of hydrogen is really being led outside of the U.S. in Europe and Asia [to] really give our clients a unsurpassed edge.”

Harvey tells Reuters she’s been paying attention to hydrogen since the 90’s, and while there’s been a “longstanding” interest in hydrogen as new fuel, “finally its time has come.”

Because of the economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global move toward using hydrogen as a part of the energy mix has accelerated, and Pillsbury is aiming to help clients figure out how to offer or deliver hydrogen, Dajani tells Law.com.

Harvey said the expansion into a hydrogen practice is as much a pivot for clients as it is for firms.

“Particularly the natural gas industry is looking at hydrogen as a big opportunity to provide a big market,” she said. “So to some degree, we are following our clients. They are viewing it as a new market.”