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.
Oct 12, 2016 2:38 PMBy R. Jason Huf
You know why you went to law school in the first place: You wanted to help people, change the world, "make a difference", be part of the solution... to whatever. Yeah, and you wanted to live a glorious, fabulous lifestyle at the top of the heap, respected by society and basking in financial comfort. What, no? Liar.When you finally graduated and passed the bar exam, your new professional qualification represented to you - at long last - the Keys to the Kingdom!
OK, so how's that workin' out for ya?
Now that I'm exactly one week into my latest attempt to quit smoking, and as the cold wind howls off the waters of the South Seaport and into the concrete canyons of Downtown Manhattan's Financial District, signaling the evaporation of yet another summer, I reasoned that penning my previously-promised piece on Work/ Life Balance would be timely.
(The cold wind cometh... )
You've devoted the first "better" half of your life to developing, well, a better life for you and yours.
Late nights at the office during the beginning of your career - part of the drill. No biggie.
More late nights managing junior fee earners once you become more seasoned - part of the drill, and "almost there". No biggie.
You're now a partner or solo practitioner and the near-constant focus is on client development; or a GC who is a company's responsible officer with a hand in everything from strategic decisions to managing the costs of outside counsel while demonstrating value for those costs; "sigh" - part of the drill, once the rain comes in steady, or I make it to the board of directors, its smooth sailing. No biggie.
Then... You've made it! Finally!! You're also 60 years old. Its over... Where did the time go and what was it for? It doesn't matter. Bye-bye. Oh yeah, and: No Biggie.
(No, my office doesn't look like this, either... )
Time is the one resource we can never obtain more of - only less. Every day. Whether we actually make good (or, any) use of it or not.
And, particularly with lawyers, once we become good at something in our field - whatever your practice areas - those things tend to become routine. Eventually, routine becomes routine. We go through the motions, the excitement of "changing the world" goes away, and its the same old same old that one cannot get away from for even the smallest amount of time, because we've got to do that billable work so we can pay those bills. Joy.
("Seriously, I went to law school for this?")
I worked for years to build my reputation as "Mr. Middle East". However, there are no more revolutionary Shari'ah-compliant financing products to help invent, no more reforms to educational systems in different parts of Arabia. Doing client work that, in some small way, may someday help to generate a broad-based, self-sustaining middle class in the Middle East is more or less over with. Moving forward, whatever happens there is pretty much already in the cards. All too often, I arrive home at 1:00am or so, pet my dog, and think of something along the lines of "Another fast food franchise on Hamdan Street... " or "Another oil refinery in the middle of some dusty nowhere... " followed by the usual "Yay. Who cares."
That's not good. A steady supply of "Bread and Butter" is nice to have, but when its all you have, things can get pretty damned dull. When we get to the point when our work day is up to 16 or even 20 hours a day some days, 5 or 6 days per week, and we no longer care about what we're doing, much less have a passion for it, then this invariably leads to the most dreaded word in the legal lexicon. The "B Word"...BURNOUT!!!
Like many in our profession, I've always been something of a minor league insomniac, so why not work late into the night, anyway? I've done some of my best thinking at 10:00pm. Of course, this means I won't be able to decompress to the point where I can sleep until 3:00am, and that's not good when you have to wake up at 6:00am.
Professional and personal dissatisfaction, as well as chronic exhaustion and "no life syndrome", are common among lawyers. And, there's no way out: you've already invested too much into your career, and your life (or, mere existence, such as it may be) is already half over anyway.
Not necessarily! The good news is, if you're good at your job, your success partially stems from your possession of excellent time management skills and your adept ability to prioritize tasks. Put those skills to work and carve out some free time - make "having a life" one of those tasks which you prioritize on a regular (well OK - semi-regular) basis.
(R&R - fit in in!)
We are in the business of being effective counselors who help our clients, be they individual or corporate clients. If you're not being good to yourself, its only a matter of time before you're not being as good as you could and should be for your clients.
I began this summer thinking it was time for "Mr. Middle East" to make full use of his time and status (OK, "Mr. Middle East" may not be lofty to the point of august, but it is kind of snazzy... ). And, then, I proceeded to more or less waste my entire summer. So, what's one summer? No biggie.... Wrong. Its a "biggie". Given my visceral dislike of winter, its effectively the waste of an entire year. Enjoying anything in the cold, wet, sharp, biting wind of the winter months takes considerable effort - and, anything that requires so much effort to "enjoy" is, definitionally, unenjoyable.
At my age, a year's worth of waste is waste I can ill-afford. I will never permit that to happen again - and, neither should you.
Necessary late nights will happen. That cannot be helped. But, working late for the mere sake of making "valuable" use of your waking hours misses the real value of time.
You - and your clients - can withstand you taking an evening, or even an entire day, off. Working from home once in a while isn't the end of the world, either. Trimming that commute time off of your schedule can make a heck of a difference, and technology makes working from home easier than ever.
In managing your time and prioritizing your tasks to make room for an actual "life", don't just take advantage of good weather as and when the seasons of the year allow, but make the most of the location where you are based: whether you've planted your flag in New York, Philadelphia, London, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Tampa, Florida or Ashville, North Carolina, you live in one of the great cities of the world - make the most of it. Its practically a sin if you don't!
In New York, where I chose to locate JHI's HQ, I am a subway ride from some of the most exciting entertainment on earth, and walking distance from several quick, pleasant distractions.
(The World-Famous ROCKETTES!!)
Whether its taking a few hours one evening to enjoy the spectacle of the world's greatest precision dance troupe at work, or a stroll through battery park after your afternoon nap, a brief refresher could actually increase the quality or your work while not severly limiting the amount of time available for work.
In addition to a bit of exercise, a proper diet doesn't hurt, either...
Taking an obscenely long lunch at a comfortable, but not too over-priced, local eatery may be just the ticket when looking for R&R opportunities that will make your thoughts sharper, more clear and faster but more thorough. You won't be able to send your client the bill, but perhaps you should given the subsequent improvement in your performance that results from taking a nice, relaxing breather...
("I wonder if they still serve those off-menu parmesean fries... ")
You can also combine business with pleasure. For example, in line with my loathing for winter, during the bitter months of January and/ or February, I am considering taking a tour of the Middle East and South Asia where the weather will be perfect at that time of year, to visit the Jeddah, KSA office as well as possible expansion points for JHI in the jurisdictions/ markets of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi & Dubai), Singapore and India.
Well, I gotta go - I've always wanted to date a Rockette and that's not going to happen by itself, nor will I be able to make it happen while sitting within the four walls of my office.
For now, remember: being good to others first requires that you be good to yourself. Although its easier said than done, "Don't Live to Work, Work to Live" - get back to living the life you intended to live when you started this journey. It comes down to good time management and shrewd prioritization. If you have run out of professional challenges, perhaps find one or two new challenges in your travels. And, there is one more thing that anyone can do, everyone should do more often, it doesn't cost you anything or require additional time, and if you do it more often, it can make a world of difference:
- Jason Huf
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
New York, NY
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!
Marcellus Shale Legal Update: Land/ Natural Gas Owners Challenge Constitutionality of Forced Pooling
May 29, 2014 1:05 PMA few individual private parties owning rights to the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas beneath their land have succeeded in adding themselves as litigants in an action between an energy company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).In successfully inserting themselves as parties to a suit filed by Hilcorp Energy (to compel the DEP to approve more applications for horizontal drilling permits), five private land owners holding three affected parcels of land are seeking to have the court declare that forced grouping, or “Forced Pooling” violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the additional drilling Hilcorp Energy seeks to perform partially depends on the enforcement of forced pooling, the court recognized the land owners as having standing and admitted their participation as parties to the case at bar.Forced Pooling is akin to the concept of “Eminent Domain”, wherein the owners of mineral rights and other such natural resources are compelled to lease their rights along the same terms and conditions as their neighbors for economic reasons.The court’s decision on the constitutionality of Forced Pooling will impact individual property rights in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and have economic repercussions across Pennsylvania and beyond. Also, regardless of the outcome, the court’s decision is likely to trigger off a series of appeals, separate suits and legislation (as well as impact the current course of pending legislation) that could well shape the success or failure of the development of Pennsylvania’s infant natural gas industry.JHI will continue to track developments affecting the rapidly changing Marcellus Shale legal landscape.
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.
Aug 27, 2013 7:39 PMIn July of this year, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation originally designed to provide for greater transparency in determining the deductions from royalties landowners derive from their existing mineral rights leases. Pa. Senate Bill 259 is an amendment to the Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979, and it contains a controversial caveat that some interpret as an opening for gas companies to apply something akin to a private sector version of eminent domain called “compulsory” or “forced grouping”.
Forced Grouping is the colloquial term for taking the terms and conditions of existing mineral rights leases, contemplated before the discovery of Marcellus Shale natural gas, and applying them against land owners with newly discovered gas deposits beneath their land without the consent of the owners, effectively eliminating their negotiating power. If Forced Grouping is used, such pre-existing terms and conditions previously irrelevant to the leasing of rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas deposits could not only be imposed but, once imposed, would “run with the land”. Therefore, not only could the landowner see a significantly reduced reward for the gas beneath his/ her own feet, but the value of the land itself could plummet as well.If you are a Pennsylvania landowner with an interest in the continuing development of the laws affecting the exploitation of the natural gas beneath your land (for some of you, land your families have owned for generations), do not be in the dark when it comes to your rights. Get together with your friends and neighbors: there’s safety and strength in numbers; and your best defense is making sure people with similar interests and concerns are all on the same page. Also, seek the advice and counsel of a qualified professional licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Know what you may be up against, know your rights and do not be pressured into accepting unfavorable terms as a fait accompli.
Marcellus Shale natural gas represents the best chance this region of the country has seen for a legitimate economic boom in many years, and landowners should be full participants in that boom. The laws concerning your rights in Marcellus Shale natural gas are rapidly changing. Contact a qualified and ethical Pennsylvania-admitted attorney with knowledge of this subject matter to learn more about your stake in an energy revolution that has the potential to change America – indeed, the world – for the better.