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Alumni Spotlight

UH Law Center graduate Marcella Burke '12 joins top international law firm as energy environmental partner 

Marcella Burke ‘12

Marcella Burke ‘12

Oct. 28, 2019 — Marcella Burke, a 2012 alumna of the University of Houston Law Center, recently began her role as an energy environmental partner at King & Spalding's Government Matters practice. Her practice is based in Houston and Washington, D.C.

Burke’s work involves advising oil and gas companies on energy and natural resources matters, including emergency preparedness, oil spill and incident response, challenging regulatory enforcement actions, and decommissioning.

"King & Spalding presented the best platform from which to serve the energy market," Burke said. "It has significant reputational capital and strategic focus in the energy and environmental space, especially in incident response, crisis management, and decommissioning.

"I look forward to counseling energy clients who aim to simultaneously promote natural resources development and protect the environment. Clients bring me in on the front end of an energy deal to button up environmental liabilities, and they call me if and when the worst happens to help them manage environmental crises, decommission when necessary, and rebuild."

Prior to joining the firm, Burke was senior counselor and deputy solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior. She also worked as deputy general counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency, as a corporate energy attorney at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Houston from 2012-2017, and as a judicial law clerk at the Supreme Court of Texas from 2014-2015.

Burke was named Houston's Outstanding Young Lawyer in 2017, and a "Texas Rising Star" by Texas Lawyer magazine. She received national acclaim for her pro bono work when she represented Kaitlyn Samuels, the daughter of a U.S. Navy captain, who could not receive health care coverage for her scoliosis and cerebral palsy by the program that serves military members.

During her time as a Law Center student, Burke served as an associate editor of the Houston Law Review and as an editor on the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 2012 Editorial Board. She was honored with 11 scholarships including the Academic Merit Scholarship, Association of Corporate Counsel Scholarship, Dean’s Scholarship, and University of Houston Distinguished Service to Women Award.

“One lesson I learned at the UHLC that applies to my day-to-day work is the importance of hard work and attention to detail,” Burke said. “Succeeding at a school like the Law Center requires hard work and dedication, which translates to success in the private sector.

“Another lesson I learned is to never be intimidated by a room full of very smart people. Instead, recognize how to collaborate, have faith in my ability, and be willing to go the extra mile to provide creative solutions and excellent service.”