Current association: Babst Calland (2014-present)
Past associations: Robinson & McElwee (1983-2014); Love, Wise, Robinson & Woodroe (1980-1983)
Law School: West Virginia University College of Law, J. D. 1980
Undergraduate: West Virginia University (B.S., Management, 1977)
Children: Tim, Jr. (41); Kate (39); Laura (36); Thomas (29); plus seven grandchildren, 9 and under!
Hometown: Born in Morgantown, WV; residing in Charleston, WV since 1980
Favorite restaurant in Charleston: Bridge Road Bistro, a close-by neighborhood watering hole and restaurant where lawyers and old friends tend to congregate and tell war stories.
EMLF Involvement: Past President (2012-13); various officer positions, committee participation, seminar and program chairmanships. I am particularly proud to have been involved at the early outset of the Marcellus play and to have worked with Sharon Daniels and others to expand oil and gas industry membership, programs and scholarship funding, including the direction of the funding of the EMLF Cabot Scholarship and a scholarship account at the WVU College of Law with unclaimed funds from the settlement of a class action royalty case.
You are an accomplished litigator. What drew you to litigation? I started in administrative and environmental law and early on got involved in some litigation which fascinated me because each case presented a new challenge and you get to learn your client’s business. I have been in coal mines, oil and gas drilling sites, compressor stations, manufacturing and electric generation plants and numerous other facilities where I needed to learn about new fields to effectively represent the clients. It still surprises me that after 41 years, no two cases are alike and there is always something new to be learned. I also had great mentors and found I enjoy the interaction with judges, juries and the process.
Although your practice is not limited to oil and gas disputes, many of the cases you have handled through the years have been oil and gas disputes. How did you get involved in this area of law? Early in my career, one of my mentors was overwhelmed with litigation and needed someone to take over some coal, oil and gas cases. At that time, there were probably only about 5 dedicated oil and gas litigators in the state/region and the industry was in a boom cycle. I became interested in the geology, engineering and the process. I also had the benefit of a fair number of jury trials under my belt (we tried cases in those days as opposed to mediating everything), so the combination of the interest in the mineral industries and litigation led to a marriage that has stuck for over 40 years.
Over the years, you have been very active in various mineral or energy law organizations. You have particularly committed a lot of time to EMLF and previously served as President, even though you had a busy practice. Why? What has EMLF meant to you? Has your involvement had a positive effect on your career? I first got involved in the EMLF because they were offering excellent CLE programs. I then met many people who encouraged me to get involved in the publication and committee work. In the process, I met many colleagues who remain friends to this day, who I would not have met but for the EMLF programs and networking. EMLF has allowed me to meet new people, get involved in the more academic side of the practice, publish articles and mentor younger lawyers to get involved in EMLF and publication and presentations. EMLF’s core mission to provide law student scholarships has also set EMLF apart from many other industry associations, where the focus is networking rather than fostering the next generation of energy lawyers. EMLF has been professionally and personally rewarding, but like everything else, you only get out what you put in.
Do you find time to travel for fun? Do you have a favorite place to visit? Raising four kids and now with seven grandchildren means most of our travel was to our favorite family beach towns, Topsail and Oak Island. Now we enjoy Hilton Head Island twice a year, and want to get back to Tuscany, where we had a wonderful time and met friendly people. We also had plans for travel to France and England scheduled for the last two years but COVID has changed that. I also have Greece and Spain on my travel bucket list.
Favorite books/authors, genre? I love history and my favorite author is Erik Larson, who writes historical fiction. I had the opportunity to hear him at a writer’s conference and enjoyed learning about his process of writing.
You have been practicing law for a number of years and have had substantial success. Is there any advice you would give to new lawyers and law students who are about to become lawyers? A law practice requires a lot of hard work and dedication to learning about your profession, your clients and their business. It also requires you must always be prepared. You also need to be aware your clients are working under deadlines and pressures, so you need to be responsive and be a problem solver for them, not a problem identifier. A successful law practice also means you need to have a happy life and law practice. By that I mean, you need to make time for your family; find good mentors to learn from; be professional and courteous to everyone in your office, to the court and your opponents. If you do, law practice is challenging, interesting and rewarding. What more could you want?!