Barclay Nicholson is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's Houston office.

Areas of Practice

Barclay offers clients in-depth knowledge and expertise in energy-related, construction and commercial disputes. He has represented a broad range of clients from the largest of the Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial business owners. He has significant experience handling energy related litigation and has represented some of the world's major oil and gas producing and refining companies as well as some of the nation's biggest drilling and E&P companies along with representing several "alternative energy" companies. Barclay also has extensive experience in construction related disputes and has represented some of the largest construction companies, owners and general contractors in the nation. Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, noted Barclay for his litigation practice describing him as, "absolutely wonderful," "a very, very strong lawyer," "knowledgeable, responsive and accessible," "intelligent and good natured." Barclay has also been named as a "Best Lawyer in America" and as a "Texas Super Lawyer."

Within the area of energy litigation, Barclay is known for his expertise related to unconventional development and hydraulic fracturing. He has authored numerous articles and given speeches both across the nation and internationally on all aspects of unconventional oil and gas plays. Barclay is the author of the Analysis of Litigation Involving Shale & Hydraulic Fracturing which details all of the litigation across the country involving shale plays. Barclay is the editor and author of the ABA's Book, The Shale Energy Revolution: A Lawyer's Guide.

Barclay has assisted clients in all of North America's major exploration plays. Internationally, Barclay has been chosen to assist the US State Department Bureau of Energy and the US Department of Commerce, through its Commercial Law Development Program, in advising the countries of China, India, Iceland, Vietnam, Colombia, Chile, and Afghanistan on their energy programs and their energy resources and the regulatory and legal matters associated with those resources. This includes both conventional energy resources as well as alternative energy resources.

Most recently Barclay served on: the US/China Unconventional Oil & Gas Sustainable Development Workshop in Beijing, China, the Oil and Gas Sector Regulation and Long-Term Management in the Arctic Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, the Regional Unconventional Gas Technical Workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam, the US/Mongolia Unconventional Oil & Gas Workshop in Ulanbator, Mongolia, the US/Afghanistan Cooperation on Extractive Industries Development Program that took place in Doha, Qatar, the US/Colombia Cooperation on Coal Bed Methane Extraction and Unconventional Resources in Bogota, Colombia, the US/India Cooperation on Unconventional Natural Gas Consultations in New Delhi, India and the US/Chile Consultations on Unconventional Natural Gas in Santiago, Chile.

In construction related litigation, Barclay has represented some of the nation's largest construction companies. He has routinely represented construction owners as well as general contractors and design professionals in construction defect and construction delay cases. Barclay has dealt with construction related litigation ranging from multi-story residential high rise buildings, to pipeline construction cases, to large scale commercial buildings. Most recently, Barclay has been involved in the litigation associated with the construction of the Millennium Tower in downtown San Francisco, which was featured on CBS's 60 Minutes. He has also been involved in litigation with other major construction projects in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Texas. Barclay also has extensive experience in construction delay claims, especially those involving pipeline projects and refinery construction projects. 

Barclay also routinely represents clients related to complex insurance issues and has handled a number of these cases as shown in more detail below. Further, Barclay recently served as Chair of the Houston Bar Association's Litigation Section, which has more than 1,200 members.

Barclay has handled commercial cases that involve amounts exceeding one billion dollars. He has represented clients in numerous proceedings both in the United States (in federal and state courts) and abroad (in the LCIA, ICC, UNCITRAL and ICDR). Additionally, he has represented clients before various administrative and congressional oversight boards.

Previously, Barclay served as Briefing Attorney for Justice Alberto Gonzales of the Texas Supreme Court, who later served as the United States Attorney General. He also served as Briefing Clerk for Chief Justice Thomas R. Phillips of the Texas Supreme Court.



Recent, significant litigation and arbitration activities include:

Energy Related Representations include:

  • Lead arbitration counsel for a private equity backed mineral interest fund against a broker dealer claiming fees owed under various financing contracts  
  • Lead trial counsel in class action litigation involving environmental concerns related to unconventional oil and gas drilling operations
  • Lead trial counsel in crude oil take-or-pay trading suit for Canadian based, international oil and gas company
  • Lead trial counsel in crude by rail train derailment for US based crude by rail transportation company 
  • Lead trial counsel in litigation arising from multiple oil & gas leases and related service contracts
  • Counseled companies regarding the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids
  • Lead trial counsel in dispute regarding Joint Operating Agreement between oil and gas operators
  • Lead trial counsel in lawsuits involving claims of groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing operations
  • Lead trial counsel for major oil and gas drilling company in dispute regarding drilling operations
  • Lead arbitration counsel for British LNG provider in commercial dispute concerning multiple multinational JOA and PSA contracts pending before LCIA
  • Lead arbitration counsel for major oil producer in ICC arbitration involving a failed merger
  • Trial counsel in trial court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for multi-national oil and gas company in $266 billion False Claims Act suit
  • Arbitration counsel for Canadian oil and gas company in ICC arbitration dispute concerning West African offshore oil fields
  • Arbitration counsel for major multinational producer and refiner in dispute with government over offshore oil rights
  • Lead arbitration counsel for multinational oil producer and refiner over government related claims in ICC arbitration
  • Lead trial counsel for International gas company in multiple take-or-pay contract disputes
  • Lead trial counsel for regional drilling and exploration company in well damage case in Texas State Court
  • Lead trial counsel for local oil and gas exploration company regarding a deceptive trade practices action pending in Federal Court in Houston

Commercial Litigation Representations include:

  • Lead trial counsel for national newspaper in complex breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty case in state court
  • Lead trial counsel for small manufacturing business owner in a state court dispute regarding a buy-sell agreement
  • Lead trial counsel for crude by rail operator relating to contract dispute for rail terminals and railcar leases
  • Lead attorney for oil field equipment manufacturer in contractual business dispute regarding a buy-out agreement
  • Lead trial counsel for International law firm in a malpractice action
  • Lead trial counsel for major media company in a wrongful death case
  • Lead trial counsel for premises owner in a suit that involved catastrophic personal injury
  • Prosecuted over 20 lawsuits on behalf of the City of Houston, as first chair attorney

Construction Related Representations include:

  • Trial counsel for public entity involving alleged damage to surrounding buildings leading to high rise tower settlement and tilt in San Francisco, California
  • Lead trial counsel for general contractor of a $2 billion dollar construction project of multiple high rise condo towers in Las Vegas involving construction defects
  • Lead trial counsel in defense of general contractor related to multi-story condo tower project in Miami
  • Lead trial counsel in defense of general contractor related to development of large master planned community in Florida
  • Lead trial counsel for general contractor related to $1 billion dollar industrial complex in Denver
  • Lead trial counsel for general contractor on school building construction alleging construction defect claims in Texas
  • Lead trial counsel for general contractor of multi-story commercial building in Santa Monica involving construction defects
  • Trial counsel for publicly traded mid-stream company related to construction delays of a multi-state pipeline project  
  • Lead trail counsel for one of the world's largest oil and gas companies in construction dispute involving multinational EPC contract
  • Lead arbitration counsel for regional pipeline company in AAA arbitration involving construction delay dispute
  • Trial counsel for national manufacturing company in bench trial in South Texas that resulted in a take nothing judgment and recovery on counter-claim

First Party Insurance and Bad-Faith Representations include:

  • Trial counsel for Fortune 500 Insurance Company in coverage and bad-faith lawsuits in state and federal court with exposure totaling over $250 million
  • Trial counsel for one of the world's leading insurance companies in a bad-faith trial lasting over four weeks in Jefferson Parrish, State Court in Louisiana
  • Trial counsel for multinational insurance company against bad-faith claims brought in Federal Court in Missouri
  • Trial counsel for International insurance carrier in first party litigation case involving bad-faith claims arising out of excess insurance policy
  • Trial counsel for National insurance company in appeal involving contractual dispute between companies which resulted in widely cited published court of appeals decision
  • Trial counsel for National insurance company in case of first impression that involved bad-faith; case was won at summary judgment and subsequently upheld at appellate level and published opinion has become widely cited as precedent

Intellectual Property Representations include:

  • Trial counsel for Fortune 500 energy company in a week long complex patent infringement jury trial in Federal Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • Lead trial counsel for major media company as defendant in TV related technology matter in Federal Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  • Trial counsel for International consumer electronics company in patent case involving MP3 players in Federal Court in Southern District of Texas
  • Trial counsel for International medical device manufacturing company in patent case involving surgical devices in Federal Court for the Eastern District of Texas



Chambers USA, Texas: Insurance, Chambers & Partners, 2011 - 2016

Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, 2018 - 2024

Best Lawyers - Insurance Law, Best Lawyers, 2022

Texas Super Lawyer, Super Lawyers, 2015 - 2022

Texas Rising Star, Super Lawyers, 2005 - 2010, 2013

Texas Top Rated Lawyer, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, 2013 - 2017

Legal 500, Listed Lawyer, 2022

Houston's Top Lawyers of 2014, H Texas Magazine, 2014

The Irish Legal 100, Irish Voice, 2014 - 2021

Who's Who in Energy Finalist, Houston Business Journal, 2013 

Top Lawyers in Houston, H Texas Magazine, 2013, 2014

Houston's Top Lawyers, H Texas Magazine, 2006 - 2009

AV Rated Lawyer, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell

 Lawyer on the Fast Track, Commercial Litigation, H Texas Magazine, 2004 - 2006

 Who's Who in America, Marquis, 2012 – 2022



Barclay has authored a number of articles on hydraulic fracturing litigation. He has also authored articles on other topics including: breach of contract damage issues, construction litigation issues, insurance coverage disputes, insurance bad faith and causation issues and international arbitration case studies. Barclay also has authored several articles for in-house legal departments. He also serves on the editorial board for both the Energy Law Report published by LexisNexis and the Oil & Gas E-Report published by the Institute for Energy Law.

Other publications include:

Construction & Infrastructure Law Blog Posts

Speaking Engagements



  • American Bar Association
    • International Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Vice-Chair (2011 - 2021)
    • Energy Litigation Committee, Senior Leadership and Programs Chair (2013 - 2016)
    • Construction Law, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Committee (2017; 2021)
    • Business Torts Litigation Committee, Committee Leadership (2011 - 2012)
    • International Law Section, Steering Group (2014 - 2015) 
    • Environment, Energy and Resources Section
    • Litigation Section 
    • Tort and Insurance Practice Section, Former Co-Chair
    • Continuing Legal Education Committee, Standing Committee Member 
    • Advisory Panel
  • State Bar of Texas
    • Litigation Section
    • Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Section
    • Construction Section
    • Professional Liability Section
  • Federal Bar Association  
  • College of the State Bar of Texas (2006 - 2021) 
  • Pro Bono College of the State Bar of Texas (2006 - 2021) 
  • Houston Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Texas Bar Foundation, Fellow
  • Houston Bar Association
    • Chair of the Litigation Section (2013 - 2014)
    • Chair-Elect of the Litigation Section (2012 - 2013)
    • Continuing Legal Education Committee (2011 - 2012)
    • Membership Committee (2011 - 2012)
    • Dispute Resolution Committee, Board of Director (2008 - 2010) 
    • Speakers Bureau Committee (2008 - 2009, 2011 - 2012)
    • Professionalism Committee (2007 - 2009)
    • Fee Disputes Committee (2006 - 2008) 
  • The General Counsel Forum
    • Board Member and Corporate Secretary (2013 - 2021)
  • Energy Law Report, Published by LexisNexis, Board of Editors (2014 - 2018) 
  • Houston Young Lawyers Association
    • Bench Book Committee, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief (2005 - 2007)
  •  World Affairs Council of Houston
  • Association of International Petroleum Negotiators
  • Houston Claims Association
  • Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association
  • The Institute for Energy Law
    • Vice-Chair and Member of the Executive Committee (2014 - 2017)
    • Editor Oil and Gas E-Report (2021)
    • Member of the Advisory Board
  • Independent Petroleum Association of America
    • Member of Land & Royalty Committee
    • Member of Environment & Safety Committee
  • Energy & Mineral Law Foundation
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • Texas Association of Defense Counsel
  • Texas Supreme Court Historical Society
  • New York State Bar Association
  • Colorado State Bar Association
  • Strauss Fellow, Next Generation Project Texas, LBJ School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas  


J.D., University of Houston, 1999

B.A., University of Texas, 1995

While in law school Barclay was Associate Editor of the Houston Law Review. He was also selected to be a member of the Order of the Coif and is also member of the Order of the Barons. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas, the State of New York, the State of Colorado, and in the United States District Courts for the Southern, Northern and Western and Eastern Districts of Texas, and for Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 


  • Texas
  • New York
  • Colorado
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