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Practice Areas

As a natural resources boutique, Lear & Lear L.L.P. specializes in several fields of mineral resources development and mineral project financing. Our clientele for such projects often consists of major oil companies, small local exploration companies and mining companies. For additional information, please visit our attorneys’ pages or call our main line.

      Acquisition of Mineral Properties

Lear & Lear attorneys and paralegals have been involved in local and multi-state transactions involving the acquisition and sale of mineral properties. Representative minerals include proven and unproven properties for oil and gas, coalbed methane, geothermal resources, tar sands, oil shale, Gilsonite, copper (and related precious minerals), gypsum, phosphate, potash, molybdenum, boxite, and uranium. Lear & Lear lawyers often team as local counsel for large New York, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles-based firms managing multi-state transactions. Our experience extends to the acquisitions of mineral interests in federal, Indian, state, and private lands. Also, we have assisted numerous operators in lease acquisition.

      Complex Title Examinations and Acquisition Due Diligence

We render mineral title opinions, status reports, apparent ownership take-off, and other reports. Lear & Lear attorneys work from abstracts of title or from their own stand-up searches. We have rendered opinions through-out the Rocky Mountain West and adjacent states covering federal, Indian, state, and private lands. The scope of work often includes company data room examination; traditional federal, Indian, and county title searches; permits, approvals, and regulatory compliance searches, and water rights verification, application, and permitting.

      Oil and Gas Conservations Hearings and Appeals

Our attorneys practice oil and gas conservation law regularly before the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining and have appeared frequently before the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission, and less frequently before the Nevada Department of Natural Resources. Typical matters include applications for spacing, forced pooling, gas flaring, compulsory unitization, royalty payment, and regulatory compliance.

      Pipeline Acquisition and Permitting

Pipeline acquisition and permitting focuses primarily on contract negotiation for rights-of-way or condemning pipeline rights-of-way for movement of produced minerals or refined products. Initial services might include title examinations to determine ownership of along the proposed right-of-way corridor through to successful acquisition of the corridor itself. Lear & Lear does not practice interstate pipeline law or appear before the Federal Energy Regulatory Board.

      Federal Indian, State, and Indian Regulatory Compliance

Exploration and production operations are heavily regulated by governmental agencies. Because many of our clients conduct operations in the “public land” states, there is often overlapping federal, Indian, and state operational jurisdiction for the same project. Lear & Lear attorneys practice before the state oil, gas, and mining conservation commissions, handling spacing, forced pooling, flaring, unitization, and proceeds payment law hearings and appeals, assisting clients with associated regulatory permitting and other compliance, and negotiating with agencies and mineral owners on the wide range of permitting matters. In addition, we assist clients to negotiate Indian and state exploration and development agreements and conduct hearings and appeals for federal, Indian, and state leases, unitization, and public land law compliance matters. On occasion these matters end up in court, and we represent our clients in federal, Indian tribal, and state courts.

      Administrative Hearings and Appeals

We have extensive experience with administrative hearings before federal, state, and Indian regulatory agencies and county commissions. We appear regularly before oil and gas conservation commissions in Utah and Wyoming and have handled cases in Nevada (see Oil and Gas Conservation, below); the United States Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, Interior Board of Land Appeals; Bureau of Indian Affairs agency, area, and national director; and Forest Service; and state departments of revenue and taxation (see Mineral Taxation, below.

      Natural Resources Litigation and Appeals

We represent clients in federal and state courts on a broad range of mineral extraction-related litigation, including judicial review of administrative decisions. We are licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court; the United States Circuit Courts for the Ninth and Tenth Circuits; United States districts courts for the Districts of Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia; and the United States Court of Federal Claims. In addition, we are admitted to practice before the supreme courts of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, and all their inferior courts. In many situations we handle the cases internally or in conjunction with our affiliated firm, Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough, or local counsel.

      Condemnation: Mineral Project Access, Well and Mine Sites, Pipeline Corridors

Lear & Lear lawyers have successfully handled numerous eminent domain actions in state court for oil and gas operators seeking to condemn oil and gas access roads, well-site locations, and facility sites.

      Mineral Project Financing

We represent mineral operators and lenders in local and multi-state acquisition and project financing and have served as local counsel in multi-state financing of oil and gas and Gilsonite projects. Lear & Lear lawyers prepare or review the financing documents, render perfection opinions, and record and file the documents.

      Resource Development on Indian Lands

Our attorneys have represented clients on several Indian reservations in the Rocky Mountain West. We negotiate leases with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and surface use and rights-of-way agreements with the tribes; and appear before tribal committees and councils and in tribal courts. Our representation includes regulatory compliance for mineral operations. See Federal, Indian, and State Regulatory Compliance.

      Water Rights

Our attorneys address water rights matters in connection with mining and oil and gas operations, and we prepare water title opinions when necessary to support those operations. We do not represent municipal or private water companies or water shareholder in disputes with those companies.

      Expert Witness and Consulting Services

Lear & Lear’s senior partner has been provided expert witness and consultation services in connection federal and state court litigation and administrative agencies hearings. Representative matters covered include the potash and oil and gas disputes in southeastern New Mexico, mineral title and investment matters, unitization involving the Prudhoe Bay Unit (Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission), and oil and gas agreements, including operations off-shore Australia.

      Renewable Energy, Advanced Solutions and Energy Technology Innovation

Lear & Lear in conjunction with Ruby Mountain, Inc. is expanding its practice areas to include assisting the needs of clients to identify, integrate and commercialize advanced energy technologies. With a focus on emerging technologies that show opportunity to make traditional energy sources more efficient or cleaner as well as assisting in the emergence of new renewable technologies including ground source heat pump systems, geothermal and solar as well as wind and bio mass.

As a natural resource firm, Lear & Lear approaches this effort with extensive background in public land issues, water law, as well as surface sub surface ownership rights. With so much renewable and traditional energy potential located in the west, Lear & Lear can bring its vast experience in oil and gas development on public lands to address renewable energy leases and acquisitions of public and private fee or lease rights for renewable projects. Further Lear & Lear has extensive experience with state and federal agencies charged with operational oversight and monitoring to provide clients assistance in meeting all administrative and regulatory requirements.

Further, its affiliation with Jones Waldo Holbrook and McDonough (link) allows Lear & Lear to address other important aspects of new innovative renewable energy technologies and development including intellectual property, tax, business entities, commercial transactions and contracts, and other related issues thus providing its clients with a full service energy and technology development support.