A Law Practice Built On ‘All Things Marcellus’

Originally published at GoMarcellusShale
By K. Daniel Glover

For Pennsylvania attorney Douglas Clark, the Marcellus Shale is a family matter. His first clients in the oil and gas space were his in-laws and their neighbors in Wayne County, and he has built an entire business around representing rural landowners in the Keystone State who remind him of his parents and grandparents.

“It’s been a gift to represent them,” Clark told GoMarcellusShale in a telephone interview. “It’s unbelievably rewarding to work with these people and get them the benefits” of living on resource-rich land.

Clark, who also hosts the radio program “All Things Marcellus” on WTRW in Scranton, Pa., never planned to get into the shale legal business. After earning his law degree from the University of Akron in Ohio, he moved to northeastern Pennsylvania to practice civil defense law. Clark later worked for the Lackawanna County Public Defenders Office and then started his own firm, taking on a mix of cases.

But after representing his in-laws and neighbors for several months in 2007-2008, Clark sensed landowners were at a disadvantage in negotiating with oil and gas companies. Some landowners were signing leases for bonuses of $100 an acre, while others were getting as much as $750. This was before the boom ultimately drove the market price to $5,750 bonuses and royalties of 20-plus percent.

Clark believed he could help. He bought advertising space in the local PennySaver publication and was off to the shale leasing races. “It just took off,” he said of landowners lining up for expert advice.

Years later, Clark is still going strong as a solo attorney for landowners. He tackles well-site, storage and pipeline agreements across the state. Lately he is handling more royalty payments and estate plans. The latter includes issues such as transferring property and ensuring that gas companies calculate royalties appropriately.

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Your Friendly Neighborhood Oil And Gas Lawyer

Originally published at EagleFordForum and GoHaynesvilleShale
By K. Daniel Glover

Years ago in Burleson, Texas, a company eager to extract natural gas from the Barnett Shale entered negotiations with property owners who were just as eager to profit from the minerals beneath their suburban development.

For a while, the talks favored the neighborhood association. The company agreed in principle to pay bonuses of $27,200 an acre and royalties of 25.25 percent. But with more than 1,000 owners in the neighborhood association, progress was slow. The recession hit in October 2008, and in one day, the company dropped its offer to $5,000 an acre and 25 percent royalties.

The neighbors cried foul, but the company insisted that no firm deal had been signed. The dispute wasn’t settled for 1 1/2 years.

The case sticks in the mind of Fort Worth attorney Eric Camp because such “rooftop leasing” is becoming more common as shale plays like Eagle Ford and Haynesville emerge across America. Oil and gas operators learned to protect their interests, Camp said, but property owners don’t tend to follow legal news like corporate lawyers. As a result, property owners are more likely to be burned now.

“Nothing pains me more than watching groups in other parts of the country making the same mistakes,” Camp said.

Yet cases like the one involving the “Central Burleson Holdouts” are precisely why Camp chose oil and gas as his legal specialty. “It’s what I’m passionate about, what I enjoy, and so it’s easier to get motivated to go to work every day,” he said.

Camp chose the field after clerking for an East Texas law firm while at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “After that first summer, I fell in love with the business and the clients,” he said. “… You’d have no idea they were millionaires – just really hard workers and entrepreneurial.”

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Sitting On Top Of The Shale World

Originally published at GoMarcellusShale
By K. Daniel Glover

Douglas Berkley Jr. was laboring in relative online marketing obscurity for a Pittsburgh newspaper when he discovered his passion for the shale business. Now he works for a company that is part of the shale space, and he runs a budding network of social media sites about it.

“I love everything about the industry,” Berkley told GoMarcellusShale. “I feel like I’m doing the country, the world, this area a service.”

Berkley is the marketing director at Somerset Regional Water Resources, a company that offers water and well-site support services and owes its existence to the Marcellus Shale. He has been at SRWR for two years, having transitioned into the shale business two years before that.

Berkley’s interest in the industry started as he read article after article about the shale boom while working at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You could see that there was something big coming,” he said, so Berkley pursued and landed a job at a shale-related startup.

He also has personal connections to shale: Although no drilling is occurring there, Berkley’s family owns land near the Marcellus region, and his hometown of Somerset, Pa., has benefited from that shale play.

The biggest benefit is jobs that pay enough to support families. This includes jobs for truck drivers, in front offices and in business development, which is one of Berkley’s responsibilities at SWSR.
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