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Minnesota Oil & Gas Attorneys Get ND Bakken Shale Oil Work

by Kenneth E. DuBose on August 18, 2011

Minnesota Oil & Gas attorney’s are quickly expanding into North Dakota as the oil & gas industry’s needs can’t be met by local attorneys alone. Minnesota law offices are dedicating teams to deal flow, permits, and other regulatory proceedings related to the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. The state saw 20% more out of state lawyers applying for the bar exam in North Dakota over the past year. That trend won’t change in the near future as North Dakota still claims the lowest unemployment in the U.S. and you can’t find a bed to sleep in without driving for hours. Only another recession or a major change in oil prices will slow the job boom in North Dakota. Oil & Gas attorneys will have work for many years to come.

Soon Bender oversaw a five-attorney office as legal needs for the oil industry hit warp speed. Today his office has 11 attorneys, with three more hires likely by year end. Fredrikson’s 35-attorney energy practice in the Minneapolis office also includes five attorneys dedicated exclusively to North Dakota work. Fredrikson’s Fargo office also covers the area.

“We have more than enough to keep us busy,” Bender said in an interview last week. “We do permits, hearings, title work, litigation, transactions. We deal almost exclusively with energy companies, pipelines and gas processing.”

Welcome to Area Code 701, the North Dakota play where Twin Cities law firms are taking care of the needs of existing clients, finding new ones and working long hours to keep up with demand.

It’s a black-gold rush in the western part of the state where everything seems overwhelmed by the quest for oil.

Unemployment is the nation’s lowest, but the area has become home for so many workers that there is a severe housing shortage. Motels are booked a year or more in advance by exploration companies to house their employees. Transportation is strained by the heavy volume of traffic from small and large vehicles.

And lawyers are in demand as much as geologists. The state Bar Association of North Dakota last year saw a jump of more than 20 percent in the number of out-of-state lawyers seeking admission to practice in North Dakota.

Leonard Street and Deinard, with an energy practice of 25 attorneys in Minneapolis and five in Washington, D.C., opened a Bismarck office just last month.

“We started evaluating this a year ago and decided in the first quarter of this year that we needed to have an office there,” said James Bertrand, head of Leonard Street’s energy group. “We had a number of clients and potential clients that were running into supply issues on legal matters.”

Read the full news release at startribune.com

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