As an energy finance lawyer at Bracewell LLP, Kate Day represents banks and energy companies in debt transactions. She typically advises on bank and other private debt, and she also works in hedging and derivatives.
“Right now, I’m representing an agent bank that has put together a syndicate of other banks to provide a reserve-based loan facility to an E&P company,” Day says. “I am also working on credit facilities in the midstream, oilfield service and commodities finance spaces.”
These days, given the current market conditions, she finds herself working on several restructurings, too, as she has in prior downturns. But, she says, some areas of the industry are doing better than others.
Despite the difficulties in today’s oil and gas market, Day is working in the career she always wanted.
A graduate of Rice University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Day found her calling to the energy industry during her college internships with Enron. “That experience taught me two things: that I wanted to be a transactional lawyer and that the most exciting deals being done in Houston were energy deals,” she says.
“When I moved back to Houston after law school, I sought out my current firm, Bracewell, which then had—and still has—a stellar reputation in the energy space.
“I interviewed all over the place, but I liked the people at Bracewell and felt like they were working on some of the most interesting deals. It was a pretty easy choice for me, and I’ve been happy at Bracewell ever since.”
In the early days of her career, often she was the only woman in a deal negotiation. Not so anymore.
“The demographics of our firm and our practice group have changed over time. Women partners outnumber male partners in Bracewell’s finance practice now,” she says. “I had primarily male mentors and am grateful to them for their trust, guidance and advocacy. They opened a path for me to grow a career at Bracewell, which is an advantage not all of my female peers in the energy industry have had.”
One of those mentors was Robin Miles, who was Day’s supervising partner when she joined Bracewell. “Robin taught me how to do what I do,” she says. “He put me in front of his clients early, and some of those clients are now also my clients. From the beginning, he involved me in every step of each deal we worked on, so I was able to take in the big picture, which made me a more experienced lawyer earlier in my career.”
She says it’s no longer as uncommon to see women on energy finance deals, adding that her team usually will skew more female than most because of the number of women finance lawyers at Bracewell. “Because of the mentoring we provide to our women associates and our recruitment of women associates, Bracewell has a lot of really talented female associates as well,” she says.
As for her advice to other women getting into law firms, she says, “Show up, ask questions and work on every deal you can get your hands on, even ones where you don’t yet have the relevant expertise. There’s no way to become an expert without getting your hands dirty. Advancement in a professional services firm is closely linked to doing excellent work for top clients, so you want to be looking for opportunities to get yourself involved in those deals whenever you can.”
Day recently finished a three-year term on the firm’s management committee. “That’s been an amazing experience,” she says. “My favorite part has been getting to know—on a deeper level—all of my partners’ practices and how they fit together to make our firm work.”
Day is also a mom to two middle school-aged children. She said one of the proudest achievements of her career is that she’s made it through “that toughest part of a woman’s career, when she’s having children and deciding which path her career is going to take. That’s a really hard time, and it’s easy to experience self-doubt and guilt about your choices, until you have a few years of experience filling both roles and can figure out where your happy medium falls. The important thing is to give yourself a chance to prove what you can do, both to yourself and others. You might be surprised [at] what you are capable of—I was.”