Lauren Varnado is a Principal in McKool Smith's Houston office. She represents private and public E&P and midstream companies operating in the shale plays, advising on matters concerning the acquisition and divestiture of oil and gas properties and midstream assets and general business operations and the application of laws and regulations related to oil and gas operations, including accounting to interest owners, landowner disputes, partner disputes, and rights and obligations under upstream, midstream and power contracts.
Lauren has prosecuted and defended a wide variety of cases involving complex contractual disputes in arbitration and federal and Texas state courts, including disputes related to:
- Oil and gas lease agreements
- Area of mutual interest agreements
- Gas purchase and sale agreements
- Crude oil trading agreements
- Joint operating agreements
Lauren’s litigation practice also includes advising clients on litigation avoidance strategies and litigation preparedness in connection with disputes that appear likely to result in litigation. In particular, Lauren regularly provides advice regarding oil and gas production practices, royalty payment practices and procedures under oil and gas leases.
Lauren is admitted to practice in Texas and in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She is also admitted to practice pro hac vice before the Northern District of California and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lauren has also represented clients in enforcement matters and show cause proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in market manipulation cases involving claims related to trading in energy and commodity markets.
Prior to joining the firm:
- Secondment to Shell Oil Company, Upstream Americas; drafted agreements for transactions with various third parties to manage associated risks and realize commercial objectives; provided legal advice and support to the domestic unconventionals business, covering all aspects of exploration, appraisal, development, production and operation of Shell's onshore tight sand/shale oil and gas assets.
- Tried to a jury verdict a case on behalf of an international oil and gas exploration and production company involving disputed payments for oil production under production sharing contracts in the Deir Ez Zor Area in Syria.
- Defended a national fuel tank manufacturer against contribution and indemnity claims arising from the alleged defective construction of a gas station. Case dismissed in district court.
- Represented an oilfield services company in connection with claims of breach of non-compete and confidentiality obligations by a former officer and owner of the company, resulting in an arbitration award in favor of the client following a seven-day evidentiary hearing.
- Represented an oil and gas exploration and production company in a purported class action case involving allegations of property damages allegedly resulting from hydraulic fracturing operations.
- Represented a defendant operator in connection with purported class action involving claims for royalty underpayments; breach of contract; breach of fiduciary duty; conversion; unjust enrichment; and breach of duty to market gas as a reasonably prudent operator. Case dismissed on summary judgment in the district court.
- Litigated and obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of an after-market auto parts company in breach of contract and warranty dispute.
Rankings & Honors
- Texas Rising Stars, Thomson Reuters, 2018
Community & Professional Activities
- Houston Bar Association
- State Bar of Texas
- Women's Energy Network
Media & Events
- William Wood and Lauren Varnado, "Trends in Energy Disputes: Impacts on Valuation," National 2014 Energy Valuation Conference, Houston, Texas04.2014
- Co-author, "LNG Disputes Under Sale And Purchase Agreements: Part 4," Law360, Nov 10, 2015
- Co-author, "LNG Disputes Under Sale And Purchase Agreements: Part 3," Law360, Nov 4, 2015
- Co-author, "LNG Disputes Under Sale And Purchase Agreements: Part 2," Law360, Oct. 28, 2015
- Co-Author, "LNG Disputes Under Sale And Purchase Agreements: Part 1," Law360, Oct. 21, 2015
- Co-author, "Texas Post-Production Costs Still Constrained By 4 Corners," Law360, June 23, 2015
- Co-author, "Texas Supreme Court interprets key holding in heritage," Norton Rose Fulbright - Legal update, June 19, 2015
J.D., summa cum laude, South Texas College of Law, 2011.
B.A., cum laude, History, minor in Philosophy, Texas A&M University, 2006.
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Texas State Bar