Alexandria Lay
32

Member, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, Charleston, West Virginia
19 FortyUnder40 feat. Lay, Alexandria

Alexandria Lay has been immersed in the energy industry since childhood. She recalls accompanying her father to well sites as a little girl and occasionally joining him in his office during the weekend. As she grew older, Lay gained a greater perspective on the role that oil and gas plays in West Virginia and yearned to participate in it.

“I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a part of the industry,” she says. “Becoming a transactional attorney and working for oil and gas and coal companies is fulfilling work to me.”

Lay is a member of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC’s energy and natural resources department’s transactional team. She represents oil and gas and coal companies in various matters, including negotiating asset acquisitions and dispositions, conducting and managing wide-scale due diligence projects, and advising on various other transactional, operational, and property matters. Since 2012, she’s been involved in transactions totaling more than $7 billion. 

Career trajectory: During Lay’s third year at Glenville State College, she realized she had accumulated enough credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in history. She wasn’t quite ready to make the leap into law school and instead spent a gap year working for Steptoe & Johnson executive—and nationally-recognized energy leader—Sharon Flanery. 

“In that year, I shadowed Sharon and others and can honestly say if I had gone to law school right out of college, my path would likely have been very different,” Lay says. “Being unprepared is sometimes a blessing.”

“I can honestly say that if I had gone to law school right out of college, my path would likely have been very different. Being unprepared is sometimes a blessing.”

She permanently joined the firm in 2012 after graduating from Washington and Lee University School of Law. Earlier this year, she reached a long-time goal when she became a member. 

“I achieved that goal at age 31, largely because I had many opportunities to work on complex deals and excellent mentors to guide me.” 

On energy: Lay’s lifelong exposure to oil and gas has helped her appreciate the impact the industry has on communities. Most of her friends and former classmates are working in the field, either directly or indirectly. 

“The oil and gas industry is one we can all be proud to support, both for its regional impact in providing good-paying jobs and for the clean, cheap energy it provides around the globe,” she says. “Knowing that I am doing important work to help in that growth is a huge motivator for me.” 

The elusive balance: Lay believes young professionals should begin their careers with a company-first attitude. 

“By focusing on helping the company achieve its goals, you end up being appreciated for your dedication and hard work.” 

She encourages her fellow energy professionals to go above and beyond what’s expected of them. “Don’t just do the task you are given,” she says. “Think beyond, about how else you can add value, and do that, too. Before long, you will see the reward.” 

When there’s time for Lay to decompress from the stresses of her job, she tends to unplug with outdoor activities. She enjoys hiking, fishing and kayaking throughout West Virginia. 

“I try to find vacations where I’m out of range,” she says. “It’s getting outside and not living your whole life caged up in an office. It’s the best way for me to slip away.”