Best Lawyers for Natural Resources Law in America

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Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Native American Law Environmental Law Water Law Energy Law Corporate Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Barbara, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Real Estate Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
David F. Asmus was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

David F. Asmus

Sidley Austin LLP
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    International Trade and Finance Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Miami, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Environmental Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Intellectual Property Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants Litigation - Antitrust Bet-the-Company Litigation Litigation - Patent
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Mergers and Acquisitions Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Construction Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Real Estate
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Water Law Energy Law Energy Regulatory Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Product Liability Litigation - Defendants Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Mining Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Banking and Finance Law Real Estate Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    San Francisco, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Land Use and Zoning Law Timber Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Addison, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Project Finance Law Corporate Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Antitrust Law Oil and Gas Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Tallahassee, Florida
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Litigation - Municipal Litigation - Environmental Commercial Litigation Mining Law Workers' Compensation Law - Employers
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Sheridan, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Real Estate Law Energy Law Corporate Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgeport, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Real Estate Law Energy Law Corporate Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Dallas, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Real Estate Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Native American Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
Donald P. Eriksen was awarded  "Lawyer of the Year" in

Donald P. Eriksen

Tucker Arensberg, P.C.
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Water Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Energy Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Real Estate Law Oil and Gas Law Mining Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Water Law Environmental Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law Mergers and Acquisitions Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Corporate Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Environmental Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Real Estate Natural Resources Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Real Estate Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Midland, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Oil and Gas Law Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Real Estate Law Environmental Law Land Use and Zoning Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Okemos, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Municipal Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lexington, Kentucky
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Corporate Law Mining Law Natural Resources Law International Mergers & Acquisitions
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgewater, New Jersey
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Mining Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Native American Law Gaming Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Water Law Energy Law Mining Law Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Regulatory Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Antitrust Law Bet-the-Company Litigation Appellate Practice Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New York, New York
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Real Estate Real Estate Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bridgeport, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law Environmental Law Litigation - Environmental Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Real Estate Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Banking and Finance Litigation - Land Use and Zoning
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law Mining Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Administrative / Regulatory Law Energy Law Water Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Portland, Oregon
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Washington, District of Columbia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Timber Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Commercial Litigation Bet-the-Company Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Mediation Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law Appellate Practice
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Natural Resources Law Utilities Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Commercial Litigation Bet-the-Company Litigation Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Billings, Montana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boise, Idaho
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Land Use and Zoning Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Billings, Montana
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Insurance Workers' Compensation Law - Employers Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants Natural Resources Law Employment Law - Management Product Liability Litigation - Defendants Commercial Litigation Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Oxford, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Utilities Law Commercial Litigation Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Real Estate Law Oil and Gas Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Energy Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lansing, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Water Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Mining Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Troy, Michigan
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Ridgeland, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Timber Law Banking and Finance Law Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Real Estate
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Mining Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Overland Park, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Billings, Montana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Banking and Finance Law Trusts and Estates Mergers and Acquisitions Law Energy Law Corporate Law Real Estate Law Tax Law Project Finance Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Corporate Law Securities / Capital Markets Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law Commercial Litigation
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Charleston, West Virginia
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Municipal Energy Law Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Commercial Litigation Mining Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bellevue, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Boulder, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lake Oswego, Oregon Lake Oswego, Washington Vancouver, Oregon Vancouver, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Real Estate Law Energy Law Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Appellate Practice Litigation - Environmental Insurance Law Administrative / Regulatory Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Energy Law Commercial Litigation Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Environmental Natural Resources Law Energy Law Administrative / Regulatory Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Environmental Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Bend, Oregon
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Water Law Natural Resources Law Government Contracts
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law Native American Law Environmental Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Jackson, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Litigation - Banking and Finance Bet-the-Company Litigation Natural Resources Law Commercial Litigation Legal Malpractice Law - Defendants Energy Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Native American Law Mining Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Rapid City, South Dakota
  • Practice Areas:
    Corporate Law Tax Law Real Estate Law Natural Resources Law Litigation and Controversy - Tax Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships) Litigation - Banking and Finance Litigation - Real Estate Administrative / Regulatory Law Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Ridgeland, Mississippi
  • Practice Areas:
    Water Law Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Houston, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Oil and Gas Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law Litigation - Environmental Environmental Law Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Seattle, Washington
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Litigation - Environmental Litigation - Land Use and Zoning Land Use and Zoning Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    San Francisco, California
  • Practice Areas:
    Land Use and Zoning Law Water Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Native American Law Natural Resources Law Environmental Law Water Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law Energy Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
  • Practice Areas:
    Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Practice Areas:
    Environmental Law Natural Resources Law Water Law Litigation - Environmental
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Denver, Colorado
  • Practice Areas:
    Administrative / Regulatory Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Wichita, Kansas
  • Practice Areas:
    Energy Law Mining Law Natural Resources Law
Lawyer
  • Location:
    Austin, Texas
  • Practice Areas:
    Oil and Gas Law Energy Law Natural Resources Law

  • Location:
  • Practice Areas:

Practice Area Definition

Natural Resources Law Definition

“Natural resources” is an extraordinarily broad concept. The United States Geological Survey defines natural resources as “minerals, energy, land, water, and biota.” This definition includes the timber, metal, or stone that your house is built from, the fuel that produced the electricity that heats and cools it, the water in its pipes, and even the scenery that increases its value.

Natural resources law is occasionally confused with environmental law, but the fields are distinct. Environmental law is what you may not do; natural resources law is what you may do and how to do it. It is the body of law that organizes the discovery, development, allocation, ownership, management, and ultimately use of all the raw materials that our civilization is built from, and of the energy sources that make it run. In a practical sense, this term has come to mean the constellation of statutory, regulatory, and judicial law that customarily applies to the major natural resource industries such as mining, oil and gas, water, and forestry.

This body of law draws heavily from contract, property, and corporate law, but also has substantial overlap with environmental, tax, land use, administrative, and even tort law. The set of legal issues that confront, for example, a client wishing to organize a company to develop a particular offshore or onshore mineral deposit, is unique. Therefore, the diversity and specificity of these issues led to the emergence of specialized natural resource lawyers.

Natural resource lawyers also must be familiar with the business realities that affect their clients. They are experienced with the operational details and points of negotiation in the contracts and physical operations that are common and also unique to a particular resource. They must alert clients to potential traps for the unwary in the case law of their jurisdiction, navigate government regulations to accomplish their clients’ goals, and assemble transactions from the myriad property and operational issues that exist for each particular resource. For example, the mechanics and economics of the development of oil and gas versus hard minerals such as coal has led to dramatically different business structures and contracts to develop these distinct resources.

Some natural resource lawyers specialize in unwinding the often Gordian ownership of mineral resources, others are skilled in litigating the unique disputes that arise in the context of development joint ventures, and still others can structure natural resource projects from exploration, to development and sale. In recent years, the natural resource industries have acquired a significant international dimension; in this context natural resource lawyers can provide invaluable orientation and counsel to foreign companies investing in mineral projects in the United States, or domestic companies seeking to expand their presence globally.

Arthur J. Wright, Oil and Gas Practice Group Leader
Thompson & Knight LLP

Thompson & Knight LLP logo

“Natural resources” is an extraordinarily broad concept. The United States Geological Survey defines natural resources as “minerals, energy, land, water, and biota.” This definition includes the timber, metal, or stone that your house is built from, the fuel that produced the electricity that heats and cools it, the water in its pipes, and even the scenery that increases its value.

Natural resources law is occasionally confused with environmental law, but the fields are distinct. Environmental law is what you may not do; natural resources law is what you may do and how to do it. It is the body of law that organizes the discovery, development, allocation, ownership, management, and ultimately use of all the raw materials that our civilization is built from, and of the energy sources that make it run. In a practical sense, this term has come to mean the constellation of statutory, regulatory, and judicial law that customarily applies to the major natural resource industries such as mining, oil and gas, water, and forestry.

This body of law draws heavily from contract, property, and corporate law, but also has substantial overlap with environmental, tax, land use, administrative, and even tort law. The set of legal issues that confront, for example, a client wishing to organize a company to develop a particular offshore or onshore mineral deposit, is unique. Therefore, the diversity and specificity of these issues led to the emergence of specialized natural resource lawyers.

Natural resource lawyers also must be familiar with the business realities that affect their clients. They are experienced with the operational details and points of negotiation in the contracts and physical operations that are common and also unique to a particular resource. They must alert clients to potential traps for the unwary in the case law of their jurisdiction, navigate government regulations to accomplish their clients’ goals, and assemble transactions from the myriad property and operational issues that exist for each particular resource. For example, the mechanics and economics of the development of oil and gas versus hard minerals such as coal has led to dramatically different business structures and contracts to develop these distinct resources.

Some natural resource lawyers specialize in unwinding the often Gordian ownership of mineral resources, others are skilled in litigating the unique disputes that arise in the context of development joint ventures, and still others can structure natural resource projects from exploration, to development and sale. In recent years, the natural resource industries have acquired a significant international dimension; in this context natural resource lawyers can provide invaluable orientation and counsel to foreign companies investing in mineral projects in the United States, or domestic companies seeking to expand their presence globally.