Leah Rudnicki’s unique background as in-house counsel, officer of an oil and gas company, and a trial lawyer in private practice provides her a distinct perspective when advising her clients on matters important to their business, including creative dispute resolution, advising on litigation prevention, or ultimately taking a case through the trial process.
As a litigator in private practice, Leah has represented, counseled and advised a diverse range of clients, from small independent companies to Fortune 500 companies, in a wide array of industries including oil and gas service, petrochemical, exploration and production, financial, logistics, and waste management. Her practice focuses on energy litigation, complex business and commercial litigation, toxic tort, and product liability.
Although Leah has handled a wide range of general commercial litigation matters, her primary focus covers four areas:
- Oil and Gas Upstream - General advice, litigation, and dispute resolution including, landowner/joint venture disputes, drilling in city limits, alleged breach of joint operating agreements and lease agreements, issues related to horizontal drilling, fracking and disposal wells (water pollution and earthquakes), and royalty/JIB accounting disputes
- Service Provider/Supply Chain - Customer relations, pre-litigation management, and litigation relating to breach of MSA/JO, breach of implied duties under the UCC, defense and/or recovery for non-payment of invoices;
- Health Safety and Environment Support - OSHA investigations/contests, policy advice, toxic tort claims, personal injury, and crisis management; and
- Hydrocarbon Transportation - Risk mitigation, analysis and crisis management related to the transportation of hydrocarbons, such has pipeline leaks and train derailments.
Leah’s experience in oil and gas operations uniquely suits her to provide clients valuable strategic business advice and innovative dispute resolution and handling. Leah has drafted and negotiated numerous instruments that deal with exploration and production of oil and natural gas, and many of her litigation matters result in a transaction, such as a purchase and sale agreement. Leah has likewise advised international clients in the oil and gas industry with respect to exploration and production in the Eagle Ford Shale with a focus on ensuring the clients’ understanding of local industry specifications and practices.
As mentioned above, Leah previously worked as in-house litigation counsel for a Fortune 500 oil and gas services company. In this position, she advised the company’s Corporate Litigation Department and Health, Safety, Environment, and Security Departments on a wide range of issues, including responding to potential new regulations affecting the oil and gas service industry. She was instrumental in updating, implementing, and communicating internal policies, preparing a national strategy for effectively managing a national toxic tort docket, and assessing successor liability claims. As a part of this work she also had the opportunity to work closely with senior management.
Leah was also president, general counsel, and vice-president of a private independent oil and gas operator with assets in Oklahoma and Texas. Her primary focus was to position the company for growth with proper capitalization and executing the optimal corporate strategy. Under her management, the business grew from 17 operated wells in Oklahoma to nearly 300 operated wells in Oklahoma and Texas and from 2 to over 30 employees. She also served in various senior officer positions with decision-making authority to act on behalf of affiliated companies owning oil and gas assets.
In addition to growing the operating business, Leah established a business-model to provide consulting services to distressed companies, receivers, and financial institutions, including asset restructuring and recapitalization, assessing and developing secondary recovery and unconventional exploitation, and reestablishing appropriate production and drilling policies and procedures.