Current association: Louisiana State University Law School
Past associations: Stone Pigman Walther Wittman L.L.C.
Law School: Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Undergraduate: Louisiana State University (B.S., Chemical Engineering)
Spouse: Machelle Hall
Home: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge: Mansur’s on the Boulevard. People in Louisiana like their food, and Mansur’s has the best fish in the city. My favorite item on the menu is their cedar plank redfish, but they have good duck and steaks if that is what you want. Their gumbo is almost as good as my mom’s, and their cream of brie and crabmeat soup is not something you will find anywhere else. Their cocktails are great too. Their live piano player knows the meaning of background music, and the restaurant is not loud, so it is easy to have a conversation at your table.
EMLF Involvement: Board of Trustees, former member of Executive Committee, Vice Chair of Publications Committee, speaker at several EMLF Annual Institutes and EMLF Fall Conferences
You practiced law for sixteen years, and you did a lot of oil and gas work. How did you get into that practice area? At the firm where I worked, young associates generally would focus on either litigation or transactional work, but you would not specialize in a particular area of law. However, once I became a partner at the firm, I needed to find a niche. I had worked on some oil and gas disputes and enjoyed those cases. Further, some of the firm’s oil and gas lawyers had left the firm or retired That left a vacuum in oil and gas law and I decided to fill it. It turned out to be a great decision.
Does your experience as a practicing lawyer help you in being a professor, and if so, how? I absolutely think the experience practicing law for sixteen years helps me as a professor. It helps me understand and appreciate why the legal issues we are discussing in class matter and how they might come up in practice. I try to convey that to students and it seems to keep them engaged. In addition, although I don’t spend a lot of time on war stories, the students enjoy hearing an occasional anecdote and I think it gives the professor some added credibility.
How did it happen that you moved from the law firm to the LSU faculty? The law firm where I worked a great reputation in general, but I wanted us to be seen as a go-to place for oil and gas law. To that end, I was doing a lot of nonbillable work— writing law review articles on oil and gas topics, teaching mineral law as an adjunct professor at Loyola, and speaking frequently on oil and gas law subjects at CLE events—some of the same types of work that a regular professor might do. I was enjoying practicing law and representing clients, but LSU Law School called me out of the blue after Pat Martin, who was the school’s longtime oil and gas professor, retired. They gave a convincing pitch that being a professor was fun and they asked me to interview for a faculty position. I did, and the rest is history.
Often, one or more of your students attend EMLF conferences. What do you tell them about EMLF to convince them to attend? I tell my students that there are several reasons to attend EMLF conferences. First, the substance is great—the speakers generally make excellent and informative presentations on important subjects. Second, I tell them that it will pay off in the long run if they build relationships by making “networking” a career-long process that they start now. But what I think helps the most in recruiting students is that I tell my students they will have fun at the conferences because EMLF has great people.
Outside of work, what do you do for fun? I like to run. I enjoy reading. Often I read history, but I also like adventure stories. I have read all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and am working my way through Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels, including his Tarzan series and his James Carter series. I also love animals. My wife and I have two dogs and a cat of our own, and I am friends with most of the dogs and cats in the neighborhood.
You practiced law for sixteen years and you have been a full-time professor for more than a decade. What advice would you give young lawyers? Work hard and do good work. Develop a reputation as someone people can depend on. Keep your word. Take the time to get involved in EMLF or similar organizations. It will help your career, but you also will get to know and like people that you otherwise might never have met.