Current association: Jackson Kelly PLLC
Past associations: Steptoe & Johnson; Reed Brothers, LP; Elmore & Elmore; Lane Law Firm; Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love
Law School: Washington & Lee University School of Law
Undergraduate: Converse College (B.A.)
Spouse: Gay Elmore – we have been married since 1992 and met in law school at Washington and Lee.
Children: I have a whole crew! My oldest son, Ot, is 29; my son, Jon, is 27; my daughter, Liddy, is 24, and my daughter, Abby, is 20. We also have a German Shepherd who thinks he is one of my children.
Home (city): Charleston, West Virginia
Favorite restaurant in Charleston: I love First Watch, which is found in many cities. We love to eat brunch there on the weekends and to people watch. I also love Fazio’s, an old Italian restaurant, for its delicious food and variety. We often eat there for family birthdays.
EMLF Involvement: EMLF member and Trustee, speaker at 10th Annual Shale Plays Conference
You have spent most or all of your career counseling clients on oil and gas transactions and other energy law issues. How did you get involved in this area of law? I stumbled into the energy law area. While practicing law with my husband, many years ago, I had a client that came in with several business issues. He had a family-owned oil and gas company, and gradually I learned more and more about his business and the oil and gas arena. After several years, the vast majority of my practice involved advising him on issues related to oil, gas and transactional matters. This leads into the next question, below.
You worked in-house as General Counsel for an oil and gas company for several years. Did that experience help you in working with clients when you returned to private practice? Absolutely, as well as practicing law while working in-house, I was actively involved in the business itself. We would travel to potential well locations, and I was actively involved in planning the drilling of several vertical wells, with site visits on a regular basis, which was quite an experience. Besides the practical knowledge of how the business operates, I dealt with leasing and many landowner and royalty issues, and that provided really practical knowledge when I returned to private practice.
You were working in the Appalachia area before the shale boom. How has the oil and gas practice in Appalachia changed during your career? When I left my in-house position, we had just drilled several vertical Marcellus wells, working with another operator. Horizontal drilling soon followed, and learning about the challenges involved in drilling horizontal wells was all new to me. So, as technology changes, the law also changes, and there are new issues arising all the time.
You are active in EMLF even though you have a busy law practice. Why? What has EMLF meant to you? Has your involvement had a positive effect on your career? EMLF has provided excellent resources which have aided in my practice of law. Each annual publication addresses issues that I have encountered or that I know I may encounter in the future. Of course, EMLF also provides great networking opportunities, and a good reason to travel to some awesome locations.
Do you find time to travel for fun? Do you have a favorite place to visit? I will always love South Carolina. I am from Greenville, South Carolina, and most of my family, including my parents, still live in the Greenville area. We visit as often as possible. Other than trips to Greenville, we love family trips to the beach – most especially Litchfield Beach and Isle of Palms, both in South Carolina. My most exciting travel was a trip several years ago to Sicily, to visit my son, Jon, who plays basketball professionally.
I enjoy reading and exercising and am in the process of taking up tennis (after many years away from the sport) and pickleball. I am so proud of my children and their accomplishments. I have a son who will be graduating from law school in May, a son who plays basketball professionally, a daughter in the building construction industry, and a daughter who will be a rising sophomore at College of Charleston, who also hopes to attend law school.
You have worked both in-house and in private practice and have had success as a lawyer. Is there any advice you would give to new lawyers and law students who are about to become lawyers? Absolutely. Be open to change and new opportunities. I have had such a varied practice – beginning as a young lawyer in litigation, moving to estate planning and business transactions, to oil and gas and other real property matters. Some people find a position and stay in that position for their entire career. That is terrific. In my case, though, change has been exciting – each position has taught me new skills, and hopefully helped me to become a better lawyer.