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Where in WI, can I find an attorney who has EXPERTISE in O&G leases? Need help quickly.

Racine, WI |

I have been unable to locate any attorneys in this area who have expertise in Oil & Gas leases and rightly so given the state and WI not being associated with having oil . An Alabama landsman has provided me with a lease from my father's inherited property . I may be one of the only people who has not returned their lease and it is because I will not do so without legal counsel . If you can point me to someone in WI , or IL who can help , that would be appreciated .

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

The key to Oil and Gas leases is knowing whether it is "free and clear". If it is, the next item to know is how the sharing is to be accomplished if it is shared with others.

If you would like to discuss and review this matter further, I welcome you to setup a time to come in to my office and meet at my office (200 S. Executive Dr., Ste. 101, Brookfield, WI 53005). You can reach me by phone at 262-789-2741 in order to setup the meeting.

Posted

You are absolutely correct in refusing to sign an oil and gas lease without the assistance of counsel. I did a quick search on Westlaw for cases on oil and gas leases. I found remarkably few. The most recent published case I found was in 2002. The attorneys who argued that case were identified in the published opinion as follows: On behalf of the plaintiffs-appellants, the cause was submitted on the briefs of Francis R. Croak, Michael J. Lund and Steven L. Nelson of Cooke & Franke S.C., Milwaukee. On behalf of the defendants-respondents, the cause was submitted on the brief of William Schroeder of Sommer, Olk, Schroeder & Payant, Rhinelander and James L. Huston and Kelli Taffora of Foley & Lardner, Milwaukee. Goldstein v. Lindner, 2002 WI App 122, 254 Wis. 2d 673, 677, 648 N.W.2d 892, 894. I do not know any of these attorneys; therefore, I can't recommend any of them. Nevertheless, you might start your search by contacting these attorneys to see if one of them or someone in their law firms would be willing to review the lease. In states like Texas where there is a large body of oil and gas case law and where there are many oil and gas practitioners, the attorneys who draft and review oil and gas leases often do not get involved in litigation over oil and gas leases. The skill sets of transactional lawyers and litigation lawyers do not completely overlap. However, the lawyers involved in the above mentioned case have some familiarity with oil and gas and I think they might be a good place to start your search.

Legal disclaimer: John Bonica is licensed to practice law only in Texas. His response is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is only intended to provide general information. The question may not include significant and important facts that would change the response. You should confer with a local attorney for competent legal advice.

John R. Bonica

John R. Bonica

Posted

As I reflect on your question, I’m thinking that you may need input from three people. I’ll call them Wisconsin Lawyer (WL), Crackerjack Lease Lawyer (CLL) and Landman (LM). You can find CLL in a producing state like Texas or Oklahoma. CLL knows the significance of provisions like the continuous drilling clause that will prevent undeveloped acreage from being held by a single well. CLL will strike the warranty provisions of the lease that could be a problem for you if title to your minerals fails. CLL will insist on the involvement of WL to protect CLL against liability for unauthorized practice of law in Wisconsin. WL will be able to advise CLL as to local law issues such as the imposition of local taxes, execution formalities, form of acknowledgment, whether the lessee needs to sign the lease, whether the lease needs to be under seal, whether there are any special requirements for recording or registration etc... LM will do the vital legwork. He will hang out at the courthouse, talk to neighbors, find out what seismic activity and drilling has occurred in the area (using specialized tools like DrillingInfo.com). The person who succeeds in a lease negotiation (like any other negotiation) has the benefit of information and a good sense of timing. If your lessee is buying the lease for speculation and without the benefit of seismic information or drilling, it does not matter how much you insist on a high lease bonus, you are probably not going to get it. If this is the case, and if you don’t need the money immediately, you might be well advised to let your neighbors lease on the cheap and wait to see what happens in the area. People in North Dakota who leased their land in 2004 and 2005 received hundreds of dollars per acre rather than the thousands of dollars per acre now being offered. On the other hand, if an oil company has just drilled a bodacious well nearby, your negotiating leverage will be very high and you will want to hold out for very advantageous lease terms. To save on costs, you might serve as LM and do the legwork yourself but I wouldn’t. LM has a critical role to play. Neither CLL nor WL is likely to know what’s going on in the area unless they are petroleum landmen.

Posted

Is the mineral interest in Wisconsin or in Alabama? If it is local, then you could ask some of the neighboring mineral owners if they used an attorney. You could also research land records on your own time to find a few lawyers who may be involved in the industry.

If the interest is in Alabama, then you could use an attorney already familiar with the typical practices of the specific area. If it is a hot play, then the local county clerk could point you toward an experienced attorney.

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