Energy industry predicted to be a “red hot” legal profession

Legal jobs in the energy industry are a red-hot option right now, according to Robert Denney Associates’ midyear market report on what is hot or not in the legal profession.

“The United States has a thirst for energy and the alternate types of energy haven’t been very productive for all the money invested in them,” said Bob Denney, president of the company.

One reason the energy market is a hot option for legal careers is the advancement in drilling technology. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a technique used to extract natural gas from the ground, and is currently a controversial topic in the industry.

“Natural gas has become much less expensive and in terms of oil we have a lot of resources that we haven’t tapped yet, so the long term effort is to cut down on the imports,” Denney said.

Of course, the drilling comes along with a host of environmental issues such as contamination of drinking water and ground water. There are approximately 22 states with sizable shale deposits, meaning a number of legal issues could arise. Furthermore, an increase of energy production in the United States means a higher demand for energy lawyers.

For law students interested in the energy market it is important to have knowledge in certain areas of the industry.

“The real issue is understanding natural resource issues and other legal aspects, like environmental issues,” Denney said.

The drilling advancements have opened up new opportunities to develop energy instead of seeking it in other countries. Ohio and western Pennsylvania in particular have become important in the market of natural gas; however, Texas is still considered the top state for energy. Houston-based Vinson & Elkins LLP, was ranked No.1 in the category for energy, gas and oil on Vault’s ranking for the best law firms in each practice area.