Monday, December 19, 2011

Texas lawyers hope to tap into Western Pennsylvania's oil and gas boom

The longest Marcellus Shale pipeline may be the one that extends from the heart of Texas to Western Pennsylvania.

On Dec. 1, Houston-based The Sadler Law Firm became the latest Texas energy firm to set up shop on the front line of the Marcellus Shale play, opening an office in the Southpointe business park in Washington County, the hub of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania.

The office, which is the firm's second, currently includes a staff of 10 lawyers, four law clerks and one office manager. It had considered an office in Downtown Pittsburgh, but decided against that after realizing most of its clients would be in suburban counties.

Partner Jacob Lenington, who manages the firm's Appalachian area, will head up the new office, and is the only existing Sadler Law attorney to make the move from Houston to Western Pennsylvania.

The rest of the attorneys, according to the firm's managing partner, Randall K. Sadler, are new to the firm and include a mix of laterals and recent law school graduates from Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Mr. Sadler said the firm anticipates expanding the office to about 30 or 40 lawyers by the end of 2012; the process of establishing a true presence in Western Pennsylvania, though, is "long-term development" that could take "10 years or more."

Mr. Sadler said the firm decided to put down roots in Western Pennsylvania because it has 30 years of experience servicing the upstream oil and gas market, which focuses on the exploration and extraction of natural resources.

Specifically, the firm focuses on real property law and the preparation of oil and gas title opinions, areas of law that, according to Mr. Sadler, require unique experience.

In addition to real property and title opinion work, according to Mr. Sadler, the firm, which currently has 91 lawyers, also handles acquisitions and divestitures, transactional work and some land-related litigation.

He said the firm already has a number of existing clients who are involved in the Marcellus Shale play, having previously done work for them in other shale plays, such as the Bakken play, which underlies Montana and North Dakota, as well as in the Rocky Mountains and Texas.

Sadler Law is the third Houston firm in the past year either to open a new office or expand an existing office in Western Pennsylvania in response to the rapid growth of the oil and gas industry spurred by the Marcellus Shale play.

In April, for example, Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski opened a Southpointe office with six energy lawyers from K&L Gates, including partner Kenneth S. Komoroski.

By Zack Needles, The Legal Intelligencer,, 215-557-2493

Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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