Natural Resources Law

What would I do if I were a natural resources lawyer?

Truly, now is the time to engage in this growing and thriving area of law. The sky is the limit for natural resources law attorneys. Resources like agriculture, energy, the environment, land, and water are integral and undeniable assets of Texas, the United States, and every nation around the world. They are critical for economic development as well as ensuring sustained scientific, social, environmental, and cultural development.

As a result there is a tremendous and expanding need for legal experts trained in various aspects of natural resources law – such as agricultural, energy, environmental, food, land use, oil & gas, sustainability, and water law – at the domestic and international levels who can facilitate progress in the development of safe, secure, and sustainable natural resources.

Where could I work as a natural resources lawyer practicing in energy and water law?

Just about anywhere. In fact, the National Jurist recently listed energy law and food law as two of the top ten hot practice areas driving hiring right now. This is not a surprise given growing energy and food needs around the world. Similarly, with drought and climatic variability hitting Texas, California and other regions of the world, water law is now recognized as a priority growth field.

As a natural resources lawyer, you can represent many different kinds of clients — government agencies, non-government organizations, Fortune 500 companies, private landowners, and corporations. You can find natural resources lawyers working in the three branches of law: regulation, litigation and transaction.

  • Natural resources lawyers working in regulatory law can represent client interests before state and federal agencies, such as petitioning the Texas Railroad Commission for an oil and gas well spacing exception, challenging water management regulations of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality or representing client interests before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rulemaking proceeding on new climate change or air quality regulations.

  • Natural resources litigators represent many of those same interests but practice within the state and federal court systems by arguing cases before the courts and engaging in negotiations with stakeholders to reach amicable settlements.

  • Finally, transactional attorneys working in natural resources law are in high demand, helping farmers negotiate agricultural regulations to ensure quality food and fiber products, working with landowners to determine the most beneficial wind turbine lease terms, advising municipalities and other parties seeking to purchase or lease water rights, assisting Fortune 500 companies to negotiate agreements for oil and gas development in other countries, or engaging the private and public sector to find a balance between natural resource exploitation and environmental concerns.

What skills will I need to be a natural resources law attorney?

Whether your practice focuses on domestic oil and gas, food safety, environmental litigation, water management, or international policymaking, you must become an expert in your field. Given the vast disputes and issues arising in the fields of agricultural, energy, environmental, food, land use, oil & gas, sustainability, and water law, you will also need to be a problem solver — capable of bringing varying interests together to establish common ground. The best problem solvers are those who have an understanding of the law, can communicate clearly, think outside the box and are upstanding and trustworthy members of the legal community. Texas A&M School of Law can prepare you to be that person.

How does Texas A&M University School of Law equip me for a career as a natural resources lawyer?

To begin your career as a natural resources lawyer, you will first need to garner the basic knowledge and skills of the profession. Texas A&M School of Law will help you acquire both. Our faculty includes highly regarded lawyers who have decades of practical experience working with government agencies, Fortune 500 and global companies, Am Law 100 law firms, and international corporations and non-profit associations, as well as within high-level state and federal courts.

In addition, we are located in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, so you will have access to law firms, governmental agencies, and other employers that can get you the experience you need to start your career. And the Aggie network will open doors and help you make connections both as a student and during the rest of your career. There are more than 62,400 Texas A&M Former Students in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, 290,200+ in Texas, 363,500+ in the United States and 395,600+ worldwide. When you graduate from Texas A&M School of Law and put on your Aggie Ring, that fiercely loyal network of Aggie ​Former Students will be there for you.

To get you ready for a career as a natural resources lawyer, you will start with foundational courses in natural resources law such as Oil & Gas Law, Energy Law, Water Law and Environmental Law. You will then build your knowledge with our wide array of courses designed to give you more in-depth knowledge in a particular subject area or set of topics.

For example, if you find that your interest lies in water law issues, you could also take International Water Law, which will provide you with insight into the management of and rights to transboundary rivers and aquifers, and Law & Science, which will give you an understanding of both the technical and practical aspects of integrating these interdependent fields. If you choose to focus on energy law, you could take additional courses such as Climate Change, Environmental Oil & Gas Law and International Petroleum Transactions, which provide an in-depth understanding of the laws and conflicts of energy development as well as methods of problem solving and dispute resolution.

Alternatively, if you are drawn to more international work, we recommend taking courses such as Climate Change, International Water Law, International Business Transactions, International Environmental Law, International Law & Sustainable Development Seminar, and International Litigation, which allow you to explore international laws, treaties, conflicts and transactions that shape our global relations. Finally, we offer other complementary courses such as Administrative Law, Constitutional Issues in Environmental Law, Environmental Litigation Drafting, Land Use, Oil and Gas Contracts Drafting, Texas Real Property, and other courses and seminars that will add further depth to your legal education and career development.

In addition to the traditional classroom experience, Texas A&M School of Law also offers opportunities for fieldwork and study. For example, you could be a part of the annual field trip to Mexico through the Texas A&M University Water Management & Hydrological Sciences Program, or you could travel to Ghana for a field trip with other law students investigating land use issues. You could become a Texas A&M Energy Institute Fellow, a funded research position sponsored by Conoco-Phillips. Or, you could participate in an externship in the DFW area, Austin, Washington, DC, and even overseas and receive course credit for placements in governmental and non-governmental offices, law firms and corporate legal departments gaining real-world experience in energy and water law law.

In our Advocacy Program, you can hone your negotiation skills by participating in negotiation competitions with students from law schools across the country. Finally, through our Professionalism and Leadership Program, we’ll pair you with natural resources lawyers who will mentor and help build your skills. For example, we are the only law school partnering with Alice Korngold, author of A Better World, Inc., to give our students the opportunity to learn from executives at companies like ExxonMobil how they work with community groups to solve problems.

It’s a fantastic time to be a natural resources lawyer. Texas A&M University School of Law can prepare you for this exciting career opportunity.