EMLF Spotlight With Clay Larkin

Current association: Dentons Bingham Greenebaum (f/k/a Bingham Greenebaum Doll; Greenebaum Doll & McDonald)
Past associations: Bingham Greenebaum Doll
Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
Law School: University of Kentucky
Undergraduate: Western Kentucky University
Wife: Stephanie Larkin
Children: Elliette, Emery and Eva
Home: Lexington, KY
Favorite restaurant in Lexington: Winchells
EMLF Involvement: Currently Vice President of EMLF, member of the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. Past presenter at EMLF’s Annual Institute.

You have been a coal lawyer for quite a while. How did you get involved in representing coal companies?
When I was a new associate at Greenebaum, there was a ton of legal work for our coal industry clients, and the partners who worked in the industry needed help. I was eager to gain experience and I volunteered to help out. Even though I had no plan to work for that particular industry coming out of law school, I enjoyed the work almost immediately. It helped that I had two great mentors in Marty Cunningham and Bruce Cryder, who taught me legal and practical skills and allowed me to interact with clients and learn about the industry.

The coal industry is under stress. How does that affect being a lawyer who represents coal companies? When representing an industry that is constantly facing challenges – regardless of demand, prices or other factors – you learn to be a problem solver. So I think the stress on the industry has had a positive impact on my professional development. But it also serves as motivation because you know that the decisions you are helping your clients make can have real-world “bet the company” implications that will impact the lives of real people.

You have been very active in various bar organizations, including the Kentucky Bar Association, the Kentucky Coal Association, and the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation, and you have given these organizations a good bit of your time, even when you had a busy law practice. Why? What has EMLF in particular meant to you? Has your involvement had a positive effect on your career? I am active in these areas because I have been very fortunate to make a career and a good number of friends in the legal and energy industries, and it’s important to give back when you can. I also care a great deal about Kentucky, where I have lived my whole life. The continued existence of the coal industry in our state is critical to Kentucky’s prosperity, and so I have been especially proud to have the opportunity to work with the Kentucky Coal Association to help protect the industry, and in an indirect way, all of Kentucky.

To me, the EMLF is a place where I can learn from the very best practitioners in the energy law field, and actually get to know those professionals. EMLF has had a very positive effect on my career, and I would encourage anyone with even a remote interest in energy or mineral law to become involved.

EMLF’s Annual Institute is in Amelia Island this year. What are you most looking forward to doing at the Annual Institute or in Amelia Island? I really enjoy Amelia Island, and actually spent some time there on my honeymoon. I am looking forward to having my family with me at the Institute and hopefully spending a little time on the beach. I am also looking forward to catching up with EMLF friends and colleagues that I have not seen in a long time due to the limited number of in-person conferences we have had in recent years.

Some of my favorite restaurants in downtown Fernandina (about 20 minutes from the resort):
Café Karibo – Sort of casual, but interesting/eclectic food and a fun patio/courtyard to sit outside
Espana – Tapas, paella
Le Clos – French, maybe the only somewhat formal restaurant I have been to on the island. Very tasty, and the setting is an old house
The restaurant at the Florida House Inn has a very good brunch – open only Saturday and Sunday

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? My kids are at the age where I spend most of my non-working time watching softball games and dance recitals, or ferrying them to other activities. My family and I are also active at our church (Cathedral of Christ the King), and I have been trying to exercise quite a bit in the past few years. I also spend an inordinate amount of time grilling and eating food.

People are starting to travel again. Do you have any favorite places to visit? Do you have any upcoming trips you are looking forward to? We visit Florida quite a bit – Amelia Island, the forgotten coast (Cape San Blas, St. George Island, Port St. Joe), or the 30A panhandle area. I hope to spend some time in the Rocky Mountains this summer, and to maybe spend some more time on the beach before school starts back in the fall.

You have been practicing law for a number of years. Is there any advice you would give to new lawyers and law students who are about to become lawyers? For law students, my advice is that it’s not too late to find something useful to do with your life. But seriously, I would encourage them to focus on clear, concise legal writing, and to spend some time in and around law offices to make sure they enjoy that environment. At my law office, we give our new associates copies of a memorandum that the founder of the Greenebaum firm wrote in 1965, explaining his expectations. His five basic points in that memo are still sound: (1) use your own original thinking; do not overly rely on forms and the work of others; (2) focus on providing excellent written work product; (3) do not take shortcuts; take the time to learn the material when you start a new project; (4) complete projects on time; (5) take time for yourself away from the office, but make sure your partners can reach you and rely on you when it is time to work.

Join EMLF!

Membership in the Energy & Mineral Law Foundation is open to anyone who is concerned with issues pertaining to the energy industry.

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