The Energy Industry in 2021 is a changing and complex landscape – fraught with exciting developments, such as innovations that have the potential to be game-changers in the industry. But also, legal conflict that can cause quite a bit of disruption. One attorney has stood out in Pennsylvania as someone truly dedicated to this practice area – and the clients involved.

We caught up with Daniel Clearfield, who has been named the Best Lawyers® 2021 Energy Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Harrisburg. For Clearfield, receiving the highest ratings from his peers and winning the “Lawyer of the Year” in Energy Law for Harrisburg has been an honor that he is pleased to share with his team at Eckert Seamans.

“Rather than an individual accomplishment, I believe that the recognition was really reflective of the entire Energy/Utility team at Eckert for which I serve as Chair. That team has achieved a host of successes for clients in 2020, continuing from past years, and has managed to develop an eclectic practice that represents both energy utilities, energy suppliers and energy infrastructure clients. For example, in 2020, we represented a major natural gas utility in a base rate case, represented several energy suppliers in civil and administrative enforcement proceedings and complaints and helped a solar energy developer finalize an agreement to develop a solar facility that will serve a regional airport.”

When asked to expand on these work highlights, he said “Our team successfully litigated two major base rate cases and gas cost rate case in the midst of the Pandemic. Planning, preparing, and litigating these major proceedings, more or less simultaneously - and all remotely, was challenging. Since all the remote aspects of hearings were more or less new, we were constantly having to rethink our usual practice regarding witness prep, presentation of legal arguments and the like. I was very pleased that all the cases we handled were resolved successfully - i.e., client was pleased with result!”

I learn something new (almost) every day. The energy bar is collegial; I’ve made many friends during my years of practice.

We suspect these great results Clearfield and team have achieved are rooted in a real passion for solving complex problems. According to Clearfield, helping clients solve problems that are at the forefront of societal concerns is rewarding. “I learn something new (almost) every day. The energy bar is collegial; I’ve made many friends during my years of practice.”

The complex and competitive landscape in the energy industry does present challenges, which can get especially tricky when it comes to working with clients.

“As energy companies become more diverse, conflicts become more prevalent,” he said. “I hate having to tell a good client that I cannot take a representation because the adverse party is also a client of the firm.”

We were curious about what, in his view, makes a great energy law attorney. His answer was simple: “Depth of experience, a “holistic” approach to administrative litigation, maintaining good relationships, and refusing to take things personal.”