Starting an Oil & Gas Career

This started out as a reply to a comment in the previous post. It ended up so long I decided it should be its own article. A commenter asked how to get a career started in oil and gas law. A couple things come to mind. One is look at industry related websites such as Rigzone. Google for more, or check my Oil Links page. Another is sign up on LinkedIn and join one of the oil related groups. I get frequent newsletters from the Oil and Gas Industry group; there’s always something about jobs, though not so much for lawyers. There’s probably a similar way to make contacts on FaceBook.

Although oil and gas law is an esoteric specialty area, there’s a broad range of career choices, depending on whether one wants to work for a big company, a law firm, go solo, work in transactional practice (contracts, sales, etc.) or in litigation, work for a federal or a state regulatory agency, etc. Whatever your focus is, that’s where you’ll want to work on getting known, making contacts, etc. In my case, FWIW, it started with a single phone call from a landowner, which got me known by the company that leased his property, which got my name mentioned to another company, and so on. I got my oil and gas career by word of mouth, hard work and building a good reputation. Unfortunately, too much hard work plus cigarettes and caffeine got me a heart attack at age 44 which sort of derailed things a while, and then I got hit with another health issue eight years later. So, I didn’t progress to “rich” and my retirement plan is to keep working. But, they tell me other things are more valuable than money, like reputation, character, honor, loyal clientele, friends. I guess I’m wealthy in that context. Still, it won’t pay for a trip through Europe, or a retirement condo near a beach.

Back in law school I couldn’t imagine anything more boring than property law, especially law about substances in the ground. Turned out to be challenging, rarely boring, and rather satisfying, for the most part. Independent producers are an interesting breed. And farmers are, well, salt of the earth. Neither are much impressed by fancy offices and Brooks Brothers suits.