© JULY/AUGUS T 2017, ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL 11
2017 TOP 10 30-SOMETHING
Growing up in a small town outside Dallas, Texas, Jessica Roper would watch the massive storms roll over the prairie and dream about one day chasing the tornados beyond the
horizon. Her wanderlust manifested itself in a college degree, the first in her family to earn
one, and law school. An opportunity to clerk for Shell Oil further expanded her possibilities
and she was the only person hired directly in-house from her class. “I couldn’t pass up the
opportunity to obtain a global perspective and develop as a lawyer at a world class organization,” she says. Today, she advises Shell’s global liquefied natural gas trading business.
Roper is currently working on projects in Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and
Brazil, and is in constant communication with her colleagues in The Hague, London, and
Dubai. While she was working at Shell’s headquarters in The Hague a few years ago, she
developed significant relationships with legal, business, and functional colleagues from all
over the world — relationships that she still values and leverages to this day. Her global
outlook and network enabled her to collaborate with counterparts in Australia and Malaysia
to craft a guidance document for crisis management situations. The document is a checklist
for anyone who serves as a logkeeper during a crisis. It’s now used across the company. It’s a
concept the legal department calls “networked performance.” It’s the way that Shell leverages
its global workforce to apply solutions from other parts of the world.
Her experience on the crisis management team is one example of how Shell’s lawyers
do more than the average lawyer. Last year, while she was still supporting Shell’s global
wells organization, and in the context of low oil prices, she helped engineer a plan to save
the company millions of dollars by working with Shell’s contractors to minimize downtime,
strictly enforcing contractual rights, and leveraging Shell’s strategic relationships.
Roper now provides legal support to Shell’s global liquid natural gas trading organization. “What I’m doing now is completely different from anything I’ve done before, but
working at Shell provides so many opportunities for lawyers to develop themselves in new
ways to be better prepared for the uncertain and changing future challenges that we may
face,” she explains. She supports commercial deals, advises on strategy, negotiates with
counterparties, and helps manage compliance and regulatory risks. When she’s faced with
something unfamiliar, she can connect to experts in other parts of the world to advise her.
The whole enterprise strengthens her position as a knowledge expert within Shell.
With around 92,000 employees in more than 70 countries, Shell and its legal department understand the importance of its workforce and lawyers like Roper. For Roper, who
is also the current secretary of the ACC Houston Chapter, and was recently selected as president-elect, her decision to move in-house has opened the door to the rest of the world and
she contends that going in-house directly from law school is the best decision she’s made in
her career. From small town Texas with dreams of chasing storms, this talented lawyer has
found that the world is her oyster. 30
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SHELL OIL COMPANY