Oil & Gas Law

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Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:25 am

So, how's the field looking? Texas is still leading the nation in natural gas production (and their oil production is only going up, it seems). The whole OH-WV-PA area seems to be rich as can be in shale gas (both the Marcellus and the Utica are producing quite nicely).

The energy firms seem to be hiring oil & gas attorneys quite often. It's a pretty specialized field (although you do need to know quite a bit about property and contract law, as far as I can tell from my oil & gas class).

I have been pretty interested in this field for a while. Really enjoying my O&G class (along with the environmental and corporate classes I have been taking along with it).

Anyone actually working in the field care to offer some input?

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:59 am

OP

FWIW, I am more concerned about the speculative outlook of the field than how it currently sits. It currently seems to be a great bet to get into right now, but that can all change depending on regulations, dry drilling, etc. So I know that there are those in the field that know far more than I do about where they think the field will be in, say, 20 or so years.

jcg
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby jcg » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:14 am

Very interested in this topic as well. I applied to SMU, and if accepted I will go for O&G. Interesting to note the importance of Contracts and Property.

mrosmith
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby mrosmith » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:04 am

The fact that it involves property, contracts, environmental, and other areas of the law is why I am interested in it.

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holdencaulfield
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby holdencaulfield » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:17 pm

In Texas, the field is looking good. With all the new shales opening up, O&G practice groups have been very busy and hiring lots of new associates. That said, attorneys I work with say the field has been very cyclical and is somewhat feast or famine.

As a sidenote: the work seems terribly boring. Many young O&G attorneys do tons of title work, and I would rather jump out my window than do that for ten hours a day. However, on the plus side, I hear it's easier to meet your billables doing title work because you just "turn on the faucet" and work at your desk all day.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:39 pm

Do you need a certain undergraduate background or any sort of prior knowledge to pursue a career in this field?

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crazycanuck
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby crazycanuck » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:07 pm

Oil and Gas is MASSIVE in Alberta. It might be worth looking at some of the oil and gas firms in Calgary/Edmonton if your school is a prestigious school (top 6 for sure). As far as i know, the Alberta oil and gas industry is far larger than Texas. It has the largest proven oil reserves anywhere in the world other than Saudi Arabia. While the firms don't hire many out of country grads, I would bet that if your degree is from a good enough school they would at least look at you, especially if you can prove a desire to work in oil and gas.

Best thing to do for these firms is to stalk their website and email any attornys who went to your school

I know a lawyer who works in house for an oil and gas company in Calgary. Gets 150k + stock options (he has probably ~1 mill in unexercised options), works 9-5 and goes skiing in the rockies every weekend. Not sure what he does, but he loves his life. Oil and gas co's pay out the rear end for people. They pay so much, that in Ft. McMurray, the Tim Hortons (similar to starbucks) has to pay employees $25/hour to serve coffee or else they wouldn't have any employees. BIG TIMHORTONS is a backup.
Last edited by crazycanuck on Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby crazycanuck » Sun Mar 24, 2013 8:08 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Do you need a certain undergraduate background or any sort of prior knowledge to pursue a career in this field?


I know several lawyers/accountants who work in oil and gas and have no UG degree related to it (really it would only be geology), it might be helpful (especially if the end goal is to work for an oil and gas co.) but not necessary.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:17 pm

holdencaulfield wrote:In Texas, the field is looking good. With all the new shales opening up, O&G practice groups have been very busy and hiring lots of new associates. That said, attorneys I work with say the field has been very cyclical and is somewhat feast or famine.

As a sidenote: the work seems terribly boring. Many young O&G attorneys do tons of title work, and I would rather jump out my window than do that for ten hours a day. However, on the plus side, I hear it's easier to meet your billables doing title work because you just "turn on the faucet" and work at your desk all day.


OP here

This is exactly what I hear the work is as a young associate. Not really worried about how dull it is, because I have been able to handle dull work thankfully. The billable aspect is pretty interesting. I didn't even think of that before.

Good to hear about Texas, too. I was actually worried that the Texas market would be slowing down (they've been pulling O&G from that state for years), but all of a sudden it seems like there is a lot more oil & gas than they previously thought (particularly gas).

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am

O&G work is not just Texas/Alberta, either. There's a lot of work in places like North Dakota (Bakken) and Pennsylvania (Marcellus); a lot of firms have opened or expanded Pittsburgh offices to accommodate the work increase.

Also, don't forget about the regulatory component - oil and gas wind up in pipelines, which are federally regulated (by FERC). There can be a lot of interesting work there on getting pipelines sited, approved, and built, and there's even regulatory litigation on the enforcement of natural gas market rules. Most of this is in DC.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:01 pm

Anonymous User wrote:O&G work is not just Texas/Alberta, either. There's a lot of work in places like North Dakota (Bakken) and Pennsylvania (Marcellus); a lot of firms have opened or expanded Pittsburgh offices to accommodate the work increase.

Also, don't forget about the regulatory component - oil and gas wind up in pipelines, which are federally regulated (by FERC). There can be a lot of interesting work there on getting pipelines sited, approved, and built, and there's even regulatory litigation on the enforcement of natural gas market rules. Most of this is in DC.


OP here.

Isn't there a new pipeline from OH and WV to the refineries coming as well?

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:54 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
holdencaulfield wrote:In Texas, the field is looking good. With all the new shales opening up, O&G practice groups have been very busy and hiring lots of new associates. That said, attorneys I work with say the field has been very cyclical and is somewhat feast or famine.

As a sidenote: the work seems terribly boring. Many young O&G attorneys do tons of title work, and I would rather jump out my window than do that for ten hours a day. However, on the plus side, I hear it's easier to meet your billables doing title work because you just "turn on the faucet" and work at your desk all day.


OP here

This is exactly what I hear the work is as a young associate. Not really worried about how dull it is, because I have been able to handle dull work thankfully. The billable aspect is pretty interesting. I didn't even think of that before.

Good to hear about Texas, too. I was actually worried that the Texas market would be slowing down (they've been pulling O&G from that state for years), but all of a sudden it seems like there is a lot more oil & gas than they previously thought (particularly gas).


I am a current oil and gas attorney. Honestly, as far as title work, it isn't the most exciting stuff out there. But the comment about hitting your billables is spot on. I'm at the office from 8-6 daily, no surprises in the schedule, and am well above my par value for the year. As for the actual work, it isn't classic title work (i.e. not ten page opinions like for surface title). There is a lot of leasehold examination that goes into the work and my opinions have ranged from 60 pages to 300 pages. Its really a nice area to be in if you don't mind a little monotony.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:42 pm

Above poster: are you based in Texas? I'm interested in Oil/Gas but have no interest in Texas. Are there other markets to consider? What exactly does title work entail?

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Above poster: are you based in Texas? I'm interested in Oil/Gas but have no interest in Texas. Are there other markets to consider? What exactly does title work entail?


I am not based in Texas. My work is coming out of the Bakken, primarily North Dakota but there is also some South Dakota and Montana work. I hear that this work is to last for ten years or so and then there will be a broader practice where the focus isn't totally on title work. I hear Cali is the next frontier for fracking technology. Colorado has been busy too as have some other areas mentioned above.

Title work is essentially taking a title abstract, applying mineral and surface conveyances, applying leases, assignments, and overriding royalty assignments to those mineral ownerships, and determining which parties are entitled to what interests from an oil well...the reason oil companies get these (I.e., mineral royalty, leasehold royalty, overriding leasehold royalty, and numerous other types). That is obviously a very simplified version of it and there is a ridiculous amount of complexity....some of my colleagues' opinions have reached over 500 pages. But that is title work in a nutshell.

Chaucer1343
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Chaucer1343 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:49 am

.
Last edited by Chaucer1343 on Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:01 am

Thanks for the responses. What do you mean by "broader work that won't focus on title"? Also, I've heard that a lot of this work is done by Staff Attorneys--so not partner track--is that true?

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for the responses. What do you mean by "broader work that won't focus on title"? Also, I've heard that a lot of this work is done by Staff Attorneys--so not partner track--is that true?


The firm I will be summering at assigns title work to junior associates. They do a ton of it. They are not "non-partner track" attorneys. May be different at other firms.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 2:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
holdencaulfield wrote:In Texas, the field is looking good. With all the new shales opening up, O&G practice groups have been very busy and hiring lots of new associates. That said, attorneys I work with say the field has been very cyclical and is somewhat feast or famine.

As a sidenote: the work seems terribly boring. Many young O&G attorneys do tons of title work, and I would rather jump out my window than do that for ten hours a day. However, on the plus side, I hear it's easier to meet your billables doing title work because you just "turn on the faucet" and work at your desk all day.


OP here

This is exactly what I hear the work is as a young associate. Not really worried about how dull it is, because I have been able to handle dull work thankfully. The billable aspect is pretty interesting. I didn't even think of that before.

Good to hear about Texas, too. I was actually worried that the Texas market would be slowing down (they've been pulling O&G from that state for years), but all of a sudden it seems like there is a lot more oil & gas than they previously thought (particularly gas).


I am a current oil and gas attorney. Honestly, as far as title work, it isn't the most exciting stuff out there. But the comment about hitting your billables is spot on. I'm at the office from 8-6 daily, no surprises in the schedule, and am well above my par value for the year. As for the actual work, it isn't classic title work (i.e. not ten page opinions like for surface title). There is a lot of leasehold examination that goes into the work and my opinions have ranged from 60 pages to 300 pages. Its really a nice area to be in if you don't mind a little monotony.


OP here

Thanks a lot for this. Great to hear from practicing attorneys on the subject.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 6:45 pm

My firm has both associates and staff attorneys who do title work. Really depends on the firm. The staff attorney model is relatively new and not settled throughout the legal industry.

As for the broader work, its going to focus a lot more on regulatory aspects on oil and gas law and the litigation associated with all of the title deficiencies and ambiguities that arise from the titleing process. Not so much the mineral owners, but on the leasehold ownership side.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My firm has both associates and staff attorneys who do title work. Really depends on the firm. The staff attorney model is relatively new and not settled throughout the legal industry.

As for the broader work, its going to focus a lot more on regulatory aspects on oil and gas law and the litigation associated with all of the title deficiencies and ambiguities that arise from the titleing process. Not so much the mineral owners, but on the leasehold ownership side.


OP here

Does your firm do a lot of regulatory advisory work? That's kind of the area I would like to stick myself into eventually. Not sure even if that's a "thing," though.

de5igual
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby de5igual » Tue Mar 26, 2013 11:24 pm

Chaucer1343 wrote:If I (1) have no background in O&G, (2) am a Texan, and (3) attend UT Law: after graduating, would it be feasible for me to pursue a career in O&G (or "Energy Law"). I would think that individuals with strong backgrounds in O&G would be more competitive for any such jobs. Moreover, does graduating from UT Law provide an advantage over other schools in O&G (or is UT Law as competitive as T6 in O&G)?


Depends what you mean by "energy law"—if you mean what it seems most of the posters here are describing, namely, small to midsize firms in Houston/West Texas doing title work and transactions with smaller oil companies, then UT will have a tremendous edge since hiring is exclusively from UT and the local schools. If what you're looking for is Houston Biglaw doing global energy projects, then T6 will have an edge if you have Texas ties since firms typically dig deeper in the class (think medianish at T6 [or no grades necessary if 1L] vs top 1/3ish at UT). I'm currently a 3L at UT and can't think of a single person going into energy transactional work with a background in O&G.

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:08 am

I am working at V&E / Baker Botts in Houston next summer and from what I heard on my interviews, O&G is going to be primarily at midsize firms or very limited practices at larger firms. These are relatively small money transactions that are all about royalties so they can't justify biglaw fees. Plus, you need to file the titles locally. At a big firm the bread and butter is in financing E&P, projects, and large asset sales -- the kind of things where paying hundreds of thousands of dollars isn't really material as long as it is done right. Of course, that entails looking at the mineral leases and all of that since those are primary assets of E&P companies.

The big firms do financing for all over -- including things like retrofitting ships to run on LNG in Canada, building peak load gas power plants in Cali, or refineries wherever -- so there isn't really a worry about Texas running out of oil or anything like that if you were interested in Texas.

Chaucer1343
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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Chaucer1343 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:04 pm

Thanks! :D

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:09 pm

Do you only do the Oil and Gas title work? Or do you get to do some real estate work too? I think I'd be interested in O&G if I could do it as part of a larger RE practice--is that possible?

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Re: Oil & Gas Law

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP

FWIW, I am more concerned about the speculative outlook of the field than how it currently sits. It currently seems to be a great bet to get into right now, but that can all change depending on regulations, dry drilling, etc. So I know that there are those in the field that know far more than I do about where they think the field will be in, say, 20 or so years.


As a lawyer in the field, gas is here for the next 100 years. Get in on it now.




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