Barry Smitherman, former Railroad commissioner, leaves Vinson & Elkins law firm

Energy lawyer and former energy regulator Barry Smitherman resigned his partnership at Vinson & Elkins on Friday.

Smitherman, who joined the firm less than two years ago and practiced out of the firm’s Austin office, left Vinson & Elkins to “pursue other career opportunities and interests,” according to a statement from the firm. Vinson & Elkins did not say what specific opportunities Smitherman plans to pursue.

Smitherman is in Washington, D.C. at the inaugural festivities and said by email that he cannot comment on his future plans.

Before joining the law firm, Smitherman served as chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. At Vinson & Elkins, Smitherman advised energy industry clients with matters pending before state and federal regulatory agencies throughout the United States, according to a 2015 announcement from the law firm. The firm touted Smitherman’s experience with electric transmission development, energy storage, renewable generation and natural gas fracking.

In December, Smitherman wrote an opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News about why former Texas Governor Rick Perry is a great pick to be the next U.S. secretary of energy. He pointed to Perry’s work in creating a competitive electricity market for consumers, spurred the development of wind power and supported the domestic oil and gas industry with extra resources, especially as fracking greatly enhanced production.