By R. Jason Huf
Some of you may have obtained entry to the "Monastery" (as I've taken to calling my office) as and when business has required. However, for most of those reading this, I realize that I'm letting you in on a little secret: the advertised address of JHI's NYC HQ office is just a mail stop associated with a shared space & services operation on the 6th floor of good old 11 Broadway. To maintain my strict "No Pop-Ins" Policy, the exact location of the Firm Headquarters Office/ Monastery's actual physical presence is kept confidential, and that confidence is only breached when necessary.
Being able to advertise the mail stop as the office address, and the convenience of renting conference room space by the hour on the 6th floor, both enable me to concentrate on my work with minimal interruption. In addition to this "buffer", availing myself of the shared services when certain tasks need to be performed rather efficiently assists me with keeping costs down, which in turn contributes to my ability to maintaining hourly rates that are very competitive.
(As an old boss of mine used to say, "This is not the Fish Market"; but, with our competitive rates and innovative price structures, there may not be much need for you to bargain when seeking high-quality, world-class International Legal Services that your company can afford)
Perhaps most fundamentally to those of you (still) reading this piece, JHI can make available to your company the seamless provision of professional services spanning just about the entire legal prism, without having to figure massive overhead costs into our hourly rates (or more innovative billing arrangements). The outfit that runs the 6th floor operation only caters to attorneys, and many of these attorneys elect to house their firms and solo practices in physical office space on the site. Irrespective of the level of their arrangement, all who participate in some form or another are listed in a directory and, over time, some of us get to know each other reasonably well.
These attorneys practice in virtually every area of the law, and possess a variety of experience levels. In short, I have at my fingertips a storehouse of legal minds to draw upon, from commercial real estate specialists, to business litigators, to tax professionals - even a very smart fellow who focuses on energy trading. And, like myself, they tend to maintain a relatively unburdensome level of overhead costs, which in turn, permits them to be reasonable with their fees as well.
A few people still tend to think of my practice as rather narrow, until I dispell them of that illusion - JHI is a Commercial, Corporate, Energy & Banking law firm and we perform a wide range of services for clients hailing from a broad variety of industries. We just happen to have extensive experience in the Middle East, which may occassionally give rise to some folks instinctively thinking of JHI as a boutique servicing a particular "specialty" area. However, JHI's capabilities are even broader than I previously reasoned:
Between the NYC HQ, our Jeddah, Saudi Arabia Office, additional reources in the UAE (Abu Dhabi & Dubai) and access to Singapore and various major cities in India, JHI as a Brand is known as a capable provider of professional services in the Middle East and South Asia, ranging from company formation to arbitration, for those who have invested - or are looking to invest - in those regions in the world.
What JHI is not (yet) necessarily known for is our ability to assist businesses based in the Middle East and elsewhere with their expansion into the US "mega-market". Whether you are an individual foreign investor entering through the EB-5 Visa process, or a family-owned conglomerate of businesses looking to invest in US real estate, or a publicly traded company in Riyadh entering a joint venture, or a participant in the new US public-private partnerships designed to reform the nation's infrastructure, JHI is well-placed to help get you started as well as protect your US-side business interests down the road.
We have access to an entire network of intellectual assets encompassing a variety of practice areas ordinarily comanded only by big law firms, without having to factor "big firm" overhead into our fees. So, when investing from West to East, or East to West, consider the cost-effective but powerful option of contacting JHI for your legal needs.
Feel the difference and put our NYC HQ and affiliated Community of Attorneys to work for you in concert with our Jeddah office and/ or resources in the UAE, India & Singapore (wherever you're from!) as we help you and your company Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
– Jason Huf
Wednesday, August 8, 2017
New York, NY
Aug 8, 2017 7:01 PM
By R. Jason Huf
Jun 23, 2017 11:40 AMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region, including JHI resources in Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates, during the holiday.
Jun 9, 2017 1:34 PMSaudi Arabia's (KSA) new Companies Law of 2015 came into effect on May 2, 2016. At JHI, we wished to see the new law in practice and how it would be enforced by Saudi authorities before commenting. In the meantime, much has already been written about the new law and we need not cover the same ground here.Of particular interest to clients and potential clients of JHI is, we believe, the law's provision of the option of Sole Proprietorships (or "Single-Shareholder" companies), and how applications for the licensing and registration of such by foreign investors are treated by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).As a general matter, the new law provides that SAGIA may continue to impose additionally stringent incorporation requirements on companies being established with the backing of foreign investors. While the process of approving incorporation applications has been somewhat streamlined at SAGIA, a certain level of uncertainty, especially at the beginning stages of such an application, remains.When considering establishing or reforming an entity in the KSA, JHI feels that if a foreign investor has a trustworthy local partner/ agent (or "sponsor") then, for the time being, it may remain prudent to make use of such local parties when doing business in the Kingdom. In addition to possibly enjoying a smoother approval process, one might avoid any potential bureaucratic pushback by some recalcitrant officials who may still be resistant to the Vision 2030 reforms more generally.The relationship with one's local sponsor can be further clarified via a side letter to the sponsorship agreement. Such sideletters have been enforced by Saudi courts with increasing regularity. And, JHI hopes that the provision for Single-Shareholder companies in the new Companies Law is not seen by the local judiciary as a rationale for reversing this trend.We will have more to say about the execution and enforement of the new Companies Law and other reforms as events (rapidly) progress. Speaking of events, recent news indicates a very real likelihood of a shift in the direction of investment capital flowing between the Untied States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Where the Riyals of the Sovereign Wealth Fund go, other Saudi-based investment capital tends to follow. With that in mind, JHI is seriously considering offering the shepherding of EB-5 (Investor) Visa applications to the menu of professional services our firm offers to incoming companies that invest in the United States, particularly New York, Pennsylvania and/ or New Jersey, where Mr. Huf is admitted to bar. JHI will have more to say on this in the near future as well.
Jul 5, 2016 2:41 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan, despite the challenges to peace and security during the Holy Month this year. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.JHI will continue its expansion in the region and hopes that, even as they mourn those lost this past week, the good people of Medina, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Kingdom celebrate God-given life and its highest pursuits.
In the United States, we celebrated the 240th anniversary of our Independence on July 4. These past several weeks have seen barbarity at its worst. With specific reference to the terrorist attack at Medina, we in the Land of Liberty, irrespective of faith, stand with and pray for the innocent victims of that atrocity. Everyone has a right to freedom from terror.
While the savage primitives of ISIS/IL are strongly suspected of coordinating the attack in Medina and other places throughout Saudi Arabia, no group as of the date of this writing has claimed responsibility and the motives of the suicide bomber in Medina are as yet unknown. It was nonetheless a murderous act of barbarity that the whole of the civilized world must reject. ANY "cause" served by the use of Terror as a tactic must, summarily, be deemed illegitimate.
Further, when terrorism is employed, the actors betray their so-called "cause" to be nothing more than a pretext for a war of conquest. This is the reality civilized people across the globe must face with the determination that any such enemy will be defeated and placed in history's rubbish pile, along with so many other would-be tyrants of the past.
Jul 17, 2015 1:11 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We hope you enjoy the celebration of the spiritual, intellectual and human growth you and your families achieved during the month of Ramadan.
We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Jul 28, 2014 2:48 PMJHI wishes our many friends in the Muslim world a happy Eid al-Fitr. We would also like to advise clients and friends who do not observe this holiday to expect delays in certain services, and possible disruptions of projected time frames, due to office closures throughout the Middle East region during the holiday.
Jul 18, 2014 4:10 PMUnless you are a fan of Battlestar Galactica, the word “Fracking” tends to have negative connotations. People don’t necessarily like it, even without quite knowing that to which the word refers.Fracking is the colloquial term for Hydraulic Fracturing (which may sound ever scarier), a mining process by which a fluid solution is applied at high pressure against fissures in subterranean rock formations to facilitate the yield of valuable materials (usually oil, gas or coal steam) that would ordinarily be uneconomical, or otherwise impracticable, to extract. This process has been in use for over sixty-five years, and over 1 million wells employing such a system have operated in the continental United States alone during that period.While Fracking is not new, the technologies involved in both the Fracking process and in oil and gas exploration have improved to the extent wherein there are new uses that generate higher yields. Perhaps the most discussed new developments as of late concern the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits.Focusing specifically on Fracking as it applies to the Marcellus Shale, in very basic terms: a well is drilled into an extraction site, and the hydraulic fluid is applied at great pressure against cracks in subterranean sandstone formations, allowing for the injection of a proppant that facilitates the release of natural gas particles (mostly methane), which then fill the well thereby making such gas available for extraction. The fluid solution employed in the Hydraulic Fracturing process generally consists of water (90%), sands (9.5%) and certain chemicals (0.5%).The chemicals conventionally used in such a solution tend to include methanol, hydrochloric or acetic acid (to clean the initial fissure), citric acid (to prevent corrosion), salts, glutaraldehyde (a disinfectant against bacteria), water-soluble guar gum and other viscosity control agents, ethylene glycol (to prevent the occurrence of scaling inside the pipes) and friction reducers. These chemicals sometimes vary and are employed to prevent bacterial growth in the water within a wellbore, facilitate and maintain operation of the well, and to prevent or otherwise mitigate the corrosion of the well casing (such well casings typically consisting of a polymer gel or foam).Recycled “flowback” water, liquid propane, carbon dioxide and other gases may be used to reduce reliance on water for this process, as the technology continues to change.Most of the discussion about the recent proliferation of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region revolves around the potential environmental impact. In addition to voicing worries over the possibility of increased seismic activity (earthquakes), many are concerned with the potential for pollution: the use of certain known carcinogens in the Hydraulic Fracturing process and, particularly, contamination of groundwater by methane gas via leaks in the wells after such wells are in operation.There is some scientific debate still ongoing as to which is more susceptible to leakage: Fracked wells or conventional natural gas wells. Currently, radioactive tracers and, increasingly, geophones are used to monitor Hydraulically Fractured natural gas wells once established. Unfortunately, much of the research and discussion on issues involving Hydraulic Fracturing and the potential consequences to the environment and our health has been ideologically motivated and politically charged. Thus, when seeking accurate information to become better educated about these legitimate concerns, well, the waters are somewhat muddied.That’s disappointing, but should not discourage one from seeking more information (especially if you live in an area where Fracking is employed, or scheduled to be employed).The intention here is not to craft a scientific treatise or to present an academic paper. This little blog posting is not all-inclusive, but is merely intended to provide some basic facts on an often-mentioned, but little understood, word that has made its way into our vocabulary. JHI hopes it may well be a springboard for conducting your own research on the subject.Finally, this article certainly does not take any political opinion on the subject of Fracking – that can continue to be the domain of those who engage in politics for a living.
Jul 9, 2014 3:37 PMBetween the July 4 weekend and other summer holidays, high summer in the Middle East, the holy month of Ramadan, and some sort of soccer tournament, we find ourselves in the unusual position of having a little free time here at JHI.As such, watch THIS SPACE: In the coming weeks, JHI will post a brief article right here in our Notes & Comments section on Hydraulic Fracturing (colloquially referred to as “Fracking”).
Following Labor Day, JHI will publish a brief note on contracting with parties in Middle Eastern jurisdictions (in particular, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates(UAE)); and, in a subsequent writing, JHI will share some thoughts on Arbitration Clauses when doing business internationally.
And, while there tends not to be many developments in the law anywhere in world during these summer months, JHI will continue to keep our eyes peeling concerning such developments as and when they affect Marcellus Shale Natural Gas, Charter Schools, Municipalities, Middle Eastern jurisdictions (particularly Gulf Cooperation Council jurisdictions), the law of Contracts, the laws of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) and the KSA, and business law generally.In the meantime, we would just like to wish all concerned a safe and happy summertime!
Mar 26, 2014 11:43 AMOn March 17, 2014, HB 1684 passed out of the Pennsylvania House of Representative's Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and now awaits the consideration of the whole House. The bill seeks to define the term "post production costs" and mandates that deductions by gas producers/ lessees of natural gas rights cannot deduct for post production costs to the extent that the net royalty paid on extracted gas is reduced to below 12.5%.In its current form, the bill would provide that royalties for unconventional wells would be calculated when the gas enters the commercial marketplace, as ownership of the gas passes on to an unrelated entity (an entity "at arms length"). In the event such receiving/ purchasing entity does not meet the definition of "unrelated", the lessee/ producer has the burden of proof in showing that the royalty generated is at fair market value.HB 1684 also provides for a 12.5 percent "Minimum". That is to say, post production costs cannot drive the royalty actually paid out after calculation to an amount below the 12.5 percent mark. And, such post production costs will have to be itemized for the benefit of the owner in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the legislation.While the bill would affect current as well as future lease agreements, it does not retroactively impact royalties already paid out. That said, this is especially important in light of a recent push to enforce "forced grouping" or "forced pooling" beyond the Utica region, into the gas-rich lands that are considered to fall within the Marcellus region.Forced Grouping is a something of a variation of eminent domain, wherein land owners who have not signed a deal to lease their gas rights are compelled to accept the deal given to a majority of their neighbors. The underlying reasoning is simple: Natural Gas is not segmented by the above-ground property line. This means "hold-outs" can effectively hijack economically useful and beneficial production on an entire deposit, absent some provision such as forced grouping.
Setting aside discussion of individual property rights vs the needs of society for the purposes of this one article, as a tangible matter the "fairness" of such compulsory grouping largely depends on the terms of the leasing agreements entered into by the majority of area landowners.The arguments for forced grouping revolve around the economics of energy, fostering and encouraging production and keeping prices down for the ultimate end-user. However, JHI believes that for the anticipated Marcellus Shale boom to be fully realized, the land owners who hold the rights to the gas beneath their feet must be full participants in such a boom.If it becomes law as presently drafted, this owner-friendly legislation will add greater credibility to gas producers/ lessees arguing in favor of the enforcement of forced grouping.While some folks are "hold-outs" for other reasons, in economic terms such might not necessarily be bad news for land owners who hold the rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas. If you are such an owner, know your rights. Gas producers/ lessees have top-shelf attorneys dedicated to pursuing the interests of these companies. You should have a high quality lawyer guarding your rights and interests.In light of this new legislation, talk with your neighbors about a common strategy for moving forward. JHI will continue to track developments in Pennsylvania law impacting the increasingly controversial and complex issues surrounding Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitation.
Jan 8, 2014 2:21 PMJHI's New York HQ office is up and running for 2014 following the Holiday Season (and a burst of inclement weather). As we return from our Holiday, the United Arab Emirates has announced the observance of a Holiday of their own:
Government offices, banks and private enterprises will be closed for business on Sunday, January 12, 2014 in celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. This should not impact international business to any great degree, as Sunday is not a workday in most other parts of the world as it is in the UAE and other GCC states.
We look forward to working on an exciting array of projects this year, and Mr. Huf plans to travel frequently throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on business related to the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas industry.
Speaking of travel, it is that time of the year when Mr. Huf begins booking public speaking appearances. Your next conference or guest lecture series will be discussed for the remainder of the year - Mr. Huf really is that dynamic and compelling. Contact JHI today to discuss subject matters he addresses and to schedule a date. Your next event will be a winner!
JHI hopes your 2014 is as interesting and prosperous as ours. Happy New Year!
Nov 6, 2013 1:02 PMAs our economy transforms into something unrecognizable, the economics of the legal profession and provision of legal services have changed as well. Since 2008, law firms and business clients have grappled with possible solutions wherein legal advice and services of sufficient quality can be provided at a cost that makes sense to all concerned, with varying success.You should be aware of these developments and how they may benefit your company. One trend gaining popularity is the notion of “Part-Time In-House Counsel”, or an outside attorney from a private firm servicing your company’s in-house legal needs on a part-time basis. This arrangement can help your company (especially if you are a small to medium-sized company) to receive the high quality legal services it needs and deserves while controlling costs.Establishing an in-house legal department can be an expensive prospect. Hiring outside counsel at an hourly rate to perform traditionally in-house functions may also seem financially daunting. However, by negotiating a fair and reasonable arrangement with an experienced attorney for the provision of traditionally in-house legal services at a fixed periodic rate, a company can acquire the safety of having the legal advice it needs at a surprisingly comfortable cost.Why would a law firm agree to such an arrangement? Simply put, there is a continuing proliferation of new lawyers and the economy stinks. Further, a law firm is a business. Like any other business, law firms need to budget. Before a business can budget, it needs to be able to make reasonable projections of income. This requires steady, reliable income streams. By agreeing to a Part-Time In-House counsel arrangement, a law firm adds a stream of steady, reliable revenue and this, in turn, helps with income predictability.Also, there are certain situations attorneys prefer to avoid. Traditional arrangements, even with precautions, sometimes lead to unfortunate episodes, such as this one described by a colleague of ours in a very unvarnished fashion: HERE(Yes, folks, it takes years of hard work and focus to become an attorney. It takes many more years of dedication to become an experienced attorney. You like to be paid for your work. So do we.)Making a Part-Time In-House Counsel arrangement work for all concerned is not necessarily easy – in addition to the usual conflict of interest search and other procedures law firms employ when accepting new business, the firm and the business client need to sit down and do a thorough assessment of the company’s legal needs and anticipated professional services. The scope of the work, firm resources devoted to the Part-Time In-House Counsel work and anticipated hours per week need to be agreed upon in advance. Also, an adult discussion about the value of the work and what the company can reasonably afford, as well as other terms of payment of costs/ compensation, needs to be held.Stay ahead of the curve. Know how changes in the economics of lawyering can benefit your company. Knowing your company's options will better enable you to Explore the Boundaries of Your Business.
Oct 15, 2013 5:14 PMAs energy production on federally-owned land has been slowed to a trickle through government action (and, sometimes, inaction), the production of oil and gas on privately-owned land has increased exponentially. This development has not only provided the first real hope of a sustainable economic boom the United States has seen in years, it also has the country on pace to be energy-independent in just five years. An America that exports energy isn’t a “game changer”, it’s a world changer.
Those who live above, and own the rights to, Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits should be aware that the advances in technology that make Marcellus Shale natural gas exploitable also make such exploitation safe from an environmental standpoint. Everyone likes clean water, and no one wants their use and enjoyment of clean water to be disturbed. Almost as undesirable, however, might be the disturbance of natural gas production by bureaucrats (or, perhaps in some rare instances, ideologues acting in the guise of bureaucrats) tasked with ensuring water safety. Also of concern may be third-party litigants seeking to maintain the artificial scarcity of our energy supply under the banner of “environmental protection”.
How do you maintain peace of mind that your water will remain clean while preventing governmental and other third-party interference that could hamper the value of your natural resource? Through contract. Again, we’re talking about privately-owned land and mineral rights, so federal regulations are not the most pressing concern. As to state regulations, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has thus far proved itself to be one of the most energy-friendly states in the country, where the emphasis on new law has largely been on securing economic growth. But, no government lasts forever – governors have term limits, and seats in the legislature do, occasionally, turn over.
Protect yourself by preempting the rationale for governmental and other third-party action: when you agree to lease the rights to your gas to a gas producer, make sure the contract includes health, safety and environmental standards that are an enforceable part of your agreement. If you own rights to Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits, negotiating for such self-regulation is perfectly reasonable and in your best interests. Reputable gas producers will not fight you on this, and the best of them will actually help you with understanding how the technology works and how to establish enforcement mechanisms that guarantee the quality of their work on your land.
The first step is getting together with your friends, neighbors and others who share your interests and discussing the importance of using your power as citizens and concerned property owners. Being on the same page is fundamentally vital to keeping your environment clean without the assistance of government regulations and regulators. The next step is contacting qualified, experienced legal counsel with the knowledge, expertise and commitment to help your community to help itself.