Following a significant increase in demand for its services and a string of successful client wins, Shakespeare Martineau has grown its energy and utilities practice with a trio of legal director hires.

With more than 45 years’ combined experience, Bhikhu Samat will be working in the full-service law firm’s energy and utilities regulatory team, while Daniel Clarke and Matthew Harris will be specialising in real estate energy. Bhikhu, who will be based in London but working with clients nationally, has joined Shakespeare Martineau from Eversheds Sutherland, where he spent a large part of his career advising Thames Water on a wide range of commercial, procurement and regulatory matters.

In his new role, Bhikhu will be helping support the growth in the firm’s water practice, which currently includes three of the country’s water and sewerage undertakers. He will also use his utility and public sector procurement experience to further strengthen the firm’s wider procurement law capabilities across its national client base.

Bhikhu said: “I am delighted to have joined Shakespeare Martineau and to have been given the opportunity to work with such a highly-experienced energy and utilities team.

“With my extensive water industry experience, I am looking forward to developing the firm’s offering to the sector, supporting its existing and future water and energy clients.” Daniel has joined the firm following more than two years at DLA Piper, where he advised FTSE 100 companies, funding institutions, private developers, statutory undertakers and government bodies with portfolio management, investment and dealing with the real estate elements of corporate restructuring across the energy, life sciences and industrial sectors.

In his new role, Daniel will be working collaboratively across the firm’s various practice areas to support Shakespeare Martineau’s growth, with a particular focus on real estate development, renewable technologies and infrastructure in the energy sector. Daniel, based in Birmingham, said: “Shakespeare Martineau has established itself as a serious contender in the energy market, advising on big ticket deals involving its planning, construction and core real estate teams alongside those operating in the circles of ‘big law’.

“The firm has been working with key players in the field for many years – well before some law firms acknowledged the increased significance of the energy sector and the importance of the UK government’s proposals around renewable infrastructure and associated legislation. With this in mind, Shakespeare Martineau is well placed to understand and sensibly steer in this rapidly evolving sector, advising its clients on key regulatory changes under proverbial microscope, which are due to keep lawyers in the sector stimulated for many years to come.”

Matthew – who will also be based in Birmingham – has joined Shakespeare Martineau following more than nine years in Eversheds Sutherland’s real estate team, where he was a trusted legal advisor to clients in the water, electricity and renewable energy sectors. In his new role, Matthew will focus on helping developer clients deliver complex renewable energy and flexible energy projects, providing strategic and transactional advice on land rights and real estate matters.

He will also advise utility companies on their land portfolios, networks and projects. Matthew said: “I was impressed by the calibre of the clients Shakespeare Martineau has in the energy space, as well as its commitment to the sector. The firm is ideally positioned to support clients with their decarbonisation agendas and will provide a great platform for the development of my career in the coming years.

“I am passionate about the energy transition and enjoy working with developers and investors on projects that will play an integral role in helping the UK to reach its net zero targets. I have worked across a range of clean energy technologies including wind, solar, battery storage and biomass, including development, financing, acquisition and disposal.

“I hope my experience of acting for utility companies on nationally significant infrastructure projects will be an asset to the firm as it seeks to retain existing clients and win new mandates in a competitive market.” Both Daniel and Matthew will work with Shakespeare Martineau’s head of energy real estate, Peter Dilks, who leads a 30-strong team advising a mix of energy project developers, landowners and some of the UK’s electricity and gas network owners.

Bhikhu, Daniel and Matthew’s appointments are the latest in a string of new hires as Shakespeare Martineau responds to growth opportunities in the energy and wider utilities sector. Bolstered by partner hires Selina Hinchcliffe and Martyn Thorpe in 2023, the firm’s sector growth strategy has also seen the recruitment in 2024 of two homegrown newly-qualified lawyers into the team, Sarah Johnson and Isaac Murdy, who joined the firm’s Sheffield and Nottingham hubs respectively.

These complement two recent associate hires with substantial real estate experience working with network operators, Rebecca Fox-Jones and Rajiv Vaiyata. At the start of 2024, Shakespeare Martineau was appointed to E.ON’s legal panel alongside Pinsent Masons and DLA Piper – all of which are offering the full range of specialist legal services required by E.ON as it continues to drive forward its UK business.

The firm also successfully advised Statera, a UK-based flexible generation storage and infrastructure developer and operator, on the substantial real estate aspects of its sale to EQT Infrastructure as part of a deal worth more than £500 million. The firm also continues to advise the Grain LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal, Europe’s largest, on the sale of new and enhanced capacity into the global gas wholesale markets.

Andrew Whitehead, senior partner and head of energy and utilities at Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Amid the currents of change in the energy and utilities sector, we stand firm in our commitment to investing in our people and practice and, as we near year-end, our trajectory points to substantial double-digit growth across our teams operating in this exciting and fast-moving sector.

“Our success underscores the quality of our team and our unwavering dedication to supporting clients navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the net zero transition. With recent panel wins and high-profile projects, we are poised for another year of robust expansion, fuelled by our steadfast investment in excellence.”