“Texas Firms Eye Energy Uptick After Weathering Downturn”
Texas law firms felt the sting of the energy downturn along with their clients, but generally weathered the storm without serious harm to their bottom lines because their work is spread across many segments of the industry. Now, there’s an optimism tied to rebounding oil prices, and early 2017 could be one of the busiest terms in recent years, attorneys say.
Greg Curry of Thompson & Knight LLP, who leads the firm’s trial practice, said the litigation group has seen heavy royalty work typical of any downcycle. When royalty owners aren’t making as much money, they often head to the courthouse, which has led to multiple multidistrict litigations, putative class actions and one-off disputes, he said.
But what’s unusual about the 2014 downturn cycle is that as that downturn-driven litigation plays out, the firm is also seeing a swath of trial work typically consistent with an upcycle and price climbs, Curry said.
The work is in large part driven by growth in the Permian Basin in the last 24 to 36 months, where demand for land is driving interest in trying to bust historical oil and gas leases dating back to the 1950s or busting other older agreements as new market entrants try to obtain footholds in the play, using litigation as part of their arsenal, Curry said.
“The Permian is definitely vibrating in what I would call an upcycle type of litigation trend, while litigation in most other parts of the state is still more of the downcycle type of work,” Curry said. “The Permian has kind of isolated itself to kind of an upcycle type of environment. I don’t recall ever having experienced that kind of dichotomy.”