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McKool Smith, one of the nation’s leading trial firms, announced that veteran trial lawyer William D. (“Willie”) Wood has joined the firm as a Principal in its Houston office. Willie is one of the nation’s most prominent energy trial lawyers and represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex business disputes and arbitration matters throughout the United States, Mexico, and Latin America. 

In addition, energy litigators Justin Tschoepe and Lauren Varnado, who worked alongside Willie at his previous law firm, will also be joining McKool Smith as Principals in Houston.

Willie is a seasoned trial lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in the energy industry. He has tried and litigated complex commercial cases, including matters involving breach of contract, tortious interference, state and federal antitrust, common law and statutory fraud, misappropriation of trade secrets, negligent misrepresentation, business disparagement, securities actions, product liability, nuisance, trespass, conversion, corporate governance, breach of fiduciary duty, shareholder oppression, and qui tam claims, among others.  He is consistently ranked as a leading lawyer in prominent legal directories such as Benchmark Litigation, The Legal 500, Best Lawyers, and Chambers USA, where he is ranked Band 1 for energy and natural resource disputes. Willie is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

In connection with his international practice, Willie’s trial, litigation and arbitration experience includes representing industry leading clients in disputes arising from operations and activities in more than 30 countries. He also advises clients in international investigation and enforcement actions, along with litigation avoidance strategies and litigation preparedness.

“Willie is a highly regarded trial lawyer who has a wealth of experience in the domestic and international energy sector,” said David Sochia, Managing Principal of McKool Smith.  “His deep ties in Texas, Mexico, and throughout Latin America will be invaluable to the firm as we continue to grow our energy litigation practice both domestically and internationally. Willie’s experience both in the U.S. and foreign jurisdictions is unmatched. We are very excited about his arrival and his ability to spearhead McKool Smith’s expansion into Mexico and Latin America related litigation, arbitration, investigations and insolvency matters.”

“I have watched McKool Smith closely over the years and been very impressed by the firm’s success and strategic growth,” said Willie Wood when discussing his attraction to McKool Smith. “The firm’s bench strength and track record in complex commercial disputes is eye popping.  Clients will benefit from the firm’s trial focus and prowess, its ‘clients-first’ culture, and its ability to offer creative fee arrangements, particularly in the contingent fee space. In a very competitive legal market, McKool Smith provides a platform and value propositions that sets it apart.”

Willie is a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Houston Law Center. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, United States District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Districts of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Texas Supreme Court.

Justin Tschoepe represents energy firms and government contractors. His broad experience, which covers disputes in state and federal court as well as in arbitration and mediation, includes matters involving qui tam claims, claims of breach of contract, indemnity, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. Justin is co-chair of the Houston Young Lawyers Association Energy Counsel Committee and has been named a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston Law Center.

Lauren Varnado advises oil and gas companies on issues related to acquisitions and divestitures, transactional agreements, and litigation prevention and preparedness. She also litigates disputes involving upstream, midstream and power contracts. She is a member of the Women’s Energy Network and has been named a Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters. Lauren is a graduate of Texas A&M University and South Texas College of Law.

With more than 165 trial lawyers across offices in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Marshall, New York, and Washington, D.C., McKool Smith has established a reputation as one of America’s leading trial firms. Since 2006, the firm has secured 11 nine-figure jury verdicts and 12 eight-figure jury verdicts. The firm has also won more VerdictSearch and The National Law Journal "Top 100 Verdicts" over the last 10 years than any other law firm in the country. Courtroom successes like these have earned McKool Smith critical acclaim and helped the firm become what The Wall Street Journal describes as “one of the biggest law firm success stories of the past decade.” McKool Smith represents clients in complex commercial litigation, intellectual property, insurance recovery, bankruptcy, and white collar defense matters.

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