Overview

Sarah advises clients on private mergers and acquisitions, development projects, joint ventures, financings, sustainable investing, and restructurings, with a focus on the energy and infrastructure industries.

She represents U.S. and global clients, including Japanese companies doing business in the United States and around the world. Her clients include power developers, investors, sovereign wealth funds, and private equity across a broad range of industries, such as power generation, publishing, biotech and medical devices, and automotive. Enjoying both business and the practice of law, she often acts as outside general counsel for clients without legal departments, in addition to advising on transactions.

A recognized leader in her field, Sarah has received numerous industry accolades from her peers and clients. In addition to her corporate practice, Sarah has long been committed to public service and she actively lends her expertise to pro bono initiatives. She reads and speaks Japanese.

  • Experience

    • Represented Chugoku Electric Power America, LLC in its acquisition of a 16.2 percent interest in Kleen Energy Systems, LLC, a 620-megawatt, Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plant located in Middletown, Connecticut.
    • Advised Footprint Power LLC in the acquisition, operation, and demolition of the existing coal power plant located in Salem, Mass., and the subsequent development, financing, construction, and sale of a combined cycle gas power development project located at the same location. This project was recognized as a PFI Deal of the Year in 2015.
    • Advised Toyota Motors in connection with its collaboration with Air Liquide to construct hydrogen fueling stations at several locations in the Northeast.
    • Advised Marquis Energy LLC in securing a $228 million loan from AgCountry Farm Credit Services, including a construction loan, term loan, revolver, and refinancing of existing indebtedness. On completion of the expansion of its ethanol facility in Hennepin, Ill., Marquis Energy will be the largest dry mill ethanol producer in the United States.
    • Advised Tenaska Power Fund II in a $1.6 billion term loan to repay acquisition and project-level debt at seven electric-generating facilities in the U.S., plus additional construction and term loan facilities. The transaction was recognized as an IJ Global North American Portfolio Deal of the Year in 2015.
  • Credentials

    Education

    • Harvard Law School, J.D., 1990, cum laude
    • University of Pennsylvania, M.A., East Asian History, 1987
    • University of Pennsylvania, B.A., History and Oriental Studies, magna cum laude

    Bar Admissions

    • New York

            Clerkships

            • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Boston), Staff Attorney (1990-1991) - originally hired to clerk for Judge Souter, who was promoted to the U.S. Supreme Court prior to start date.

            Professional Memberships

            • Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation (2017-present)
            • ABA RADER, Various Vice Chair Rolls (2008-2014, 2017-present)
            • International Bar Association, Power Law Committee, Vice Chair (2016-present); North American Representative (2015-2016)
            • Women’s Infrastructure Network, New York Steering Committee (since 2016). WIN is a global professional organization for women working in infrastructure.
            • American Bar Association, Renewable Alternative Distributed Energy Resources Committee, Chair (2014-2017); Various Vice Chair Roles (2008-2014)
            • New York City Bar Association, Chair; Asian Affairs Committee, Chair (2007-2010)
            • Council on Foreign Relations, Member (1998-present)
          • Insights

            TITLE
            Event

            Trends in Energy Financing

            2018 Mid-Year Energy Forum, Energy Bar Association

            Location:
            Washington, D.C.
            News Release

            61 Schiff Attorneys Named to 2019 Best Lawyers in America List and Six Recognized as “Lawyer of the Year”

            Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that 61 attorneys have been included in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, as well as six who were named a “Lawyer of the Year” in their respective areas of practice.

            Blog Post
            News Release

            Chambers USA 2018 Recognizes Four Practice Areas and 22 Attorneys

            Schiff Hardin is pleased to announce that four practice areas and 22 attorneys have been recognized in the 2018 edition of Chambers USA, a leading legal industry ranking.

            Event

            Access to Clean Energy: How the Lessons Learned from Cooking Fuels Can Lead to Transformation

            International Bar Association, Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law 2018

            Location:
            April 11, 2018 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. WEST, Lisbon, Portugal
            Event

            Power to the People: How Power Generation Is and Will Be Moving from Large Utilities and Investors to Consumers and Newcomers in the Power Sector

            International Bar Association, Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law 2018

            Location:
            April 10, 2018 11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. WEST, Lisbon, Portugal
            News Release

            Top Energy Lawyer Sarah A. W. Fitts Joins Schiff Hardin in New York

            Former Debevoise Partner Brings M&A and Project Finance Experience to Complement Schiff Hardin’s Energy Industry Team

            Publications

            • “The United States Withdraws from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Jun. 2, 2017)
            • “Paris Climate Change Accord: 195 Countries Agree to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Dec. 23, 2015)
            • “The ZEVs are Coming,” (co-author) New York Energy Week (Jun. 25, 2015)
            • “Bureau of Land Management Issues Final Rule for Fracking on Federal and Tribal Lands,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Apr. 9, 2015)
            • “The Empire State Strikes Back: New York State Bans Hydraulic Fracturing,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Dec. 23, 2014)
            • “New EPA Rule Seeks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Jun. 10, 2014)
            • “New Ways to Manage Old Pension Liabilities,” Law360 (Jun. 2013)
            • “Full Steam Ahead: EPA Regulations Put Industrial Boiler Emissions Under Pressure,” (co-author) Debevoise & Plimpton LLP client alert (Jan. 23, 2013)
            • “Freedom is an Electric Car,” HuffingtonPost.com (Sep. 25, 2011)
            • “Report of the Mission to China of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York,” Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (Oct. 2010)

            Speeches & Presentations

            • “Trends in Energy Financing,” 2018 Mid-Year Energy Forum, Energy Bar Association, Washington D.C. (Oct. 30, 2018)
            • “Power to the People: How Power Generation is and will be Moving from Large Utilities and Investors to Consumers and Newcomers in the Power Sector,” (moderator) IBA Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) 2018, London (Apr. 10, 2018)
            • “Access to Clean Energy: How the Lessons Learned from Cooking Fuels Can Lead to Transformation,” (moderator) IBA Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) 2018, London (Apr. 10, 2018)
            • “Climate Change” and “The Energy Challenges Facing Smart Cities” panels, IBA 2017 Annual Conference, Sydney, Australia (Oct. 9, 2017)
            • “Infrastructure Investment in the Americas,” Debevoise & Plimpton LLP seminar, Tokyo, Japan (May 11, 2017)
            • “U.S. Infrastructure,” Joint Seminar, Bae Kim & Lee and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Seoul, South Korea (Feb. 2, 2017)
            • “Climate Change and the Financing of Renewable Energy Projects,” IBA Annual Conference 2016, Washington, D.C. (Sep. 23, 2016)
            • “Infrastructure-Private Sector Investment in the African Power Sector,” IBA 2nd Annual Investing in Africa Conference, London (Jun. 29-Jul. 1, 2016)
            • “Main Challenges Operating Energy Projects: What a Board Member of a Power Company Should Know,” IBA Biennial Conference of the Section on Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law 2016 - Challenge, New York (Apr. 19, 2016)
            • “Renewable Energy,” Columbia Law School's Environmental Law Society Symposium, New York (Feb. 22, 2016)
            • “Private Sector Investment in the African Power Sector,” (moderator) Investing in Africa: Opportunities for Business and the Lawyers Who Counsel Them, New York (Jun. 25, 2015)
            • “Leveraging Institutional Capital to Power Africa,” 2nd Africa Alternative Investment Intensive, New York (Jun. 10, 2015)
            • “One Year In - How are States Progressing Towards Meeting the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan?” (moderator), ACORE Renewable Energy Seminar and Teleconference Series (webinar) (May 20, 2015)
            • “Trends and Issues in Renewable Energy Mergers and Acquisitions,” ACORE Renewable Energy Seminar (webinar) (Oct. 15, 2014)
            • “The State of the Union and the State of Renewable Energy Policy,” ACORE Renewable Energy Seminar (webinar) (Feb. 26, 2014)
            • “Aggregation of Renewable Energy Assets: Bond Pools, Securitization, and Other Financing Techniques,” (moderator), ACORE Renewable Energy Seminar (webinar) (Jun. 19, 2013)
            • “Managing Your Career in the Energy Industry,” WICE (Women in Communications and Energy) Managing Your Career in the Energy Industry, Columbia University (Oct. 4, 2012)
            • “Speak My Language: The Simple Facts about Renewable Energy and How to Use Them,” The Simple Facts about Renewable Energy and How to Use Them (webinar) (Sep. 19, 2012)
            • “Financing Renewable Energy Projects,” ABA/ACORE (webinar) (Jun. 14, 2012)
            • “Life After Harvard,” (Making Sure You Have A) Life After Harvard, Harvard University (Feb. 2, 2012)
            • “Finance in a World of Reduced Government Assistance,” ACORE Renewable Energy Seminar (webinar) (Jan. 18, 2012)
            • “Rating Renewable Energy Projects for Lawyers,” ABA Teleconference (Nov. 17, 2011)
            • “Panel G4: Excellence in International Business Partnering,” Renewable Energy Technology (RETECH) Conference, Washington, D.C. (Sep. 22, 2011)
            • “Life After Harvard,” (Making Sure You Have A) Life After Harvard, Harvard University (Feb. 3, 2011)
            • “’One World, One Dream’ and Many Opinions: Freedom of Expression at the Beijing Olympics,” New York City Bar Association (Jul. 24, 2008)
          • Citizenship

            Pro Bono Activities

            • The Global LPG Partnership
            • Global Development Incubator
            • Harvard Law School’s “Free the Law” Project

            Civic and Charitable Memberships

            • Former board member of Scenic Hudson, Inc., and Scenic Hudson Land Trust. Sarah was significantly engaged in board activities, including an ongoing internal study on impact investing (2010-2018)
            • Member of the Steering Committee of the New York Chapter of the Women’s Infrastructure Network (2016-present)
            • Actively involved in Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter, Inc., which was begun by residents of the upper east side of Manhattan to address the emerging homeless crisis in the 1980s and continues to provide services and support to New Yorkers in need (1999-2009)