From holding various leadership positions in a number of professional organizations to speaking as a featured presenter at seminars and educating other senior colleagues on a number of topics, Amber Barlow Garcia has accomplished a lot much earlier in her career than she imagined she would. As an environmental litigator in the oil and gas industry, she made partner at one of her region’s most respected law firms by the age of 32, and she has eyes on even more career milestones before she turns 40.
Why did you enter the oil and gas industry?
“Born and raised in Louisiana, the oil and gas industry is our bread and butter. When I joined a civil litigation defense law firm in New Orleans early in my legal career, the firm’s clients included several oil and gas companies. In 2013, the firm was assigned representation of clients in what New York Times Magazine has dubbed ‘the most ambitious environmental lawsuit ever’ in American history. Being involved in the trial team to defend these lawsuits in the first year of practice was my introduction to the oil and gas industry as an environmental litigator.”
Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“I am president-elect of the Women’s Energy Network [WEN] Southeast Louisiana Chapter. This role affords the opportunity to network and connect you with women in all aspects of the energy industry in many different fields. Being a female attorney focusing on environmental litigation, I often find myself the only female in the room. Being heavily involved in WEN allows me to be in a room full of females in the energy industry to be able to brainstorm and discuss critical issues and problem solving.”
What qualities do you think are necessary for a good leader in the oil and gas industry?
“A great leader in the oil and gas industry is humble and very in touch with his/her own strengths and weaknesses. A great leader is going to know his/her weaknesses and surround him/herself with others on the team that possess the qualities the leader lacks. The great leader is going to be organized and attentive to his/her team members strengths and weaknesses and promote those strengths in a positive and appreciative light and place those team members in positions where their strengths flourish.”
Who is your mentor, and what is the most valuable advice they have given you?
“Jody Hart was my mentor. Unfortunately in 2021, he died of a brain aneurysm at his law office. Jody was one of the senior attorneys at the very first civil litigation defense law firm I joined after graduating law school. From my very first day, Jody showed me the utmost respect. He did not treat me like I was an inexperienced, fresh out-of-law-school baby lawyer. Rather, he treated me like a capable, respected colleague. Our paths over the years would lead us to different law firms, but Jody remained my mentor and biggest fan. He believed in me and believed in my talent. He encouraged me to always continue to develop those talents and never back down.”
What do you think young industry members as a group have to offer that is unique to them?
“The under-40 group in the industry has seen many changes and adaptations of the workplace and work life. This generation is largely a generation where technology and computers have been key in their early education and development. This generation is forward thinking and unapologetic for addressing the need for evolutionary change in the workplace. The pandemic ushered in the idea of working remotely to many industries, including the energy industry, which I think will stick around and allow this generation to have a different work/life balance approach.”
What transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“Technology is a huge player going forward, and I think being forward thinking and embracing the changing times that come with technology developments will be key. The speed of change in our laws and economy has accelerated due to the exponential growth of technology. To maintain our competitive edge, the industry must also accelerate its growth commensurately.”
1. I am the first person in my family to go to law school, making me a first-generation attorney.
2. My husband also works in oil and gas at Enviro-Tech Systems LLC.
3. I enjoy boxing as a form of exercise and stress relief.