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After taking his first business law class as an undergraduate at Georgetown University, Professor Alex Ritchie knew he one day wanted to be a transactional lawyer. Although he enjoyed his first career as a public accountant, just accounting for transactions was not enough for him. “I wanted to be intricately involved in transactions, negotiating the terms, drafting the contracts and seeing the deals close,” he said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgetown, he went to work for KPMG as an accountant and began saving money for law school. “When I finally got to law school at the University of Virginia, I loved every minute of it,” he said. “Although my parents were very supportive, like so many families today they were not able to help out financially with my education. I think it made me appreciate my education that much more, and work that much harder.”
Ritchie joined the University of New Mexico School of Law faculty in 2012, returning to New Mexico 23 years after graduating from high school in Albuquerque.
Into the law
After graduation from UVA law school, Ritchie didn’t have to wait long for his first transaction. His first job was with Hughes & Luce in Dallas, where right away he worked alongside a firm partner on the sale of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team to current owner Mark Cuban. Despite the excitement of the job, he missed the Rocky Mountains, and after a year, joined the Denver law firm of Holme, Roberts & Owen.
For the next 10 years, he was immersed in billions of dollars of transactions. Initially, he worked on mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions in myriad industries. It wasn’t long; however, before he developed a focus in oil and gas and mining transactions, drawn by the camaraderie of the lawyers that practiced in that area of law. As he developed an expertise, he also developed an appreciation for the importance of the energy industry to the United States.
“Domestic oil and gas production is not only essential as a means to drive our cars to work every day,” he said. “Right here in New Mexico the industry provides thousands of jobs and generates billions of tax dollars.”
In 2009, Ritchie joined Suncor Energy, where, as a senior in-house counsel, he focused on both upstream and downstream oil and gas and environmental matters. “My work at Suncor really highlighted to me the important balance between production and sustainability and the hard work that is required to use and protect natural resources at the same time,” he said. He also saw great strides made by the natural resources industry to better protect the environment and to keep the industry more sustainable.
Into the classroom
Just as accounting proved to be an excellent foundation for a career in transactional law, working in the natural resources field has prepared Ritchie to take his expertise into the classroom. He first became interested in teaching when he managed the professional development program for transactional lawyers at Holme, Roberts & Owen. “I found the greatest joy in my job was helping other lawyers become better lawyers,” he said. It was then that he started contemplating the thought of a teaching career.
Although he has only been back in Albuquerque for a few months, Ritchie already has begun reaching out to the energy industry in New Mexico. “I’m really looking forward to working with the natural resources professors to build the school’s oil-and-gas program and better connect the program with the state,” he said. “I want to help provide new opportunities in the industry for our graduates through education.”
Ritchie is a trustee of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation and is co-chairing the foundation’s Special Institute on Oil and Gas Agreements: Contracting for Goods, Services and People, to be held May 2-3, 2013 in Santa Fe.
Outside the law
In addition to his passion for law, Ritchie also harbors a passion for music. He began his singing career in middle school with the Albuquerque Boys Choir and continued singing in high school musicals and at church in Albuquerque.
At Georgetown, Ritchie directed an a cappella singing group. During his tenure as director, the group started the DC A Cappella Festival, which continues to this day. In one of the highlights of his life, he sang the national anthem at his 1993 Georgetown commencement ceremony. During college and throughout law school at the University of Virginia, Ritchie also moonlighted as the lead singer of Momma Shanks, a rock-and-roll band that recorded and released an album.
In addition to music, Ritchie and his wife, Amy, enjoy cooking and remodeling together, and spending time with their two daughters, Allison, 9, and Anna, 7. In Denver, he was actively involved through board service, pro bono legal work and other work with several nonprofit organizations serving the homeless community. After getting his feet on the ground, he looks forward to working with the homeless in his hometown of Albuquerque.
August 13, 2012