Last October we reported on the growth of law firms in western Pennsylvania drawn to the area as the result of energy work in the Marcellus Shale. A number of firms, including Fulbright & Jaworski and Texas energy boutique Burleson, opened offices in the area around Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s largest firms have also been growing their energy practices, as the expansion in this region shows no signs of letting up. As Drew Singer wrote in February of this year in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Firms that already had oil and gas practices are making them bigger. Firms that didn’t have a practice are rushing to create one. Small firms and solo practitioners are also catching up, hoping to represent landowners as Big Law allies with the gas companies.
Recent “newcomer” activity includes:
- On May 1, Charleston, West Virginia-based Jackson Kelly, acquired the Indiana, Pennsylvania law firm of Gormly Gormly & Yuhas which has represented clients in the oil and gas industry including those involved in the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays. The Gormly lawyers will relocate to the firm’s Pittsburgh office, which it opened in 2004. In addition, Jackson Kelly announced that the firm will be opening a new office in Canton, Ohio in support of the firm’s growing energy practice and has plans to add another dozen or so lawyers in the Pittsburgh and Canton offices this quarter.
- Marking Saul Ewing’s expansion into western Pennsylvania, the firm opened a new office in Pittsburgh on May 1 with four attorneys from the local office of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Their practices include corporate finance, business counseling, tax and mergers and acquisitions. Saul Ewing’s managing partner David S. Antzis said in an interview with The Legal Intelligencer, “We view the Pittsburgh market as, economically, one that’s been really picking up.” He added that the energy industry and in particular the Marcellus Shale work has contributed to that growth.
- San Francisco’s Gordon & Rees opened a new office in Pittsburgh in March staffed by seven litigators from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. The office initially will focus on commercial litigation, construction, health care and some ancillary practices. While Marcellus play work was not a motivating factor for entering the western Pennsylvania market, the firm “hopes to eventually capitalize on the energy rush as well,” according to a recent article in the Pittsburgh Business Times.
- Houston-based energy boutique Sadler Law opened an office in the Canonsburg area southwest of Pittsburgh in December of last year. The firm specializes in representing energy companies in transactions, litigation and the preparation of oil and gas title opinions.
Pittsburgh’s largest firms, notes the Post-Gazette, are recruiting lawyers from across the country to grow their energy practices. At K&L Gates, “the oil and gas team has expanded over the past five years from three or four lawyers to about 45” and at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, the firm “has added more than 20 lawyers to its oil and gas team in the past two years, said Sean Moran, co-chair of the firm’s Energy Section and Oil & Gas Practice Group.”
As all this activity makes abundantly clear, energy work continues to be a major driver of strategic direction at law firms. Firms continue to see value in having a presence in the Pittsburgh regional area and are eager to seize opportunities to serve clients there.
Posted by Marianne Purzycki