Washburn Law Launches Oil and Gas Law Center

Photograph: David Pierce.Washburn University School of Law is launching a new Oil and Gas Law Center, which will be the law school's fifth Center for Excellence. David Pierce, Norman R. Pozez Chair in Business and Transactional Law and Professor of Law, will be the Center's director. Pierce has been the driving force behind the oil and gas program at Washburn Law since its inception nearly a quarter of a century ago in 1989.

"Our program takes a positive approach to the subject matter because it's not necessarily pro-industry but it's certainly not anti-industry. We are training the future lawyers the industry will need to do business effectively. We are training the future lawyers governmental agencies will need to effectively regulate the industry," Pierce said.

Washburn Law has offered one of the most extensive oil and gas law curricula in the nation and is recognized as a premier learning institution with a focus on oil and gas law. Creating the Oil and Gas Law Center will provide a structure for the existing oil and gas curricula and reflects Washburn's institutional commitment to these programs.

"One of the major factors that distinguishes a Washburn Law grad from others is that they will have taken several classes specifically focusing on oil and gas," Pierce noted. "I've had employers tell me that's a huge plus, because not only does it validate that the student has an interest in the subject matter but the student also has a substantial amount of background in the area the minute they start working. It may take years for their competitors to gain the same level of knowledge."

The oil and gas industry has been a significant part of the Kansas economy since the early 1900s, and oil and gas law continues to be a major area of practice in Kansas and throughout the world. The Center structure will allow Washburn Law to more effectively attract students, obtain grants and other financial support for Center programs, and attract alumni and other oil and gas lawyers to assist with the Center's educational mission. Oil and gas law, as an elective field of study, has always enjoyed a strong student following. Washburn has a rapidly growing group of alumni who practice oil and gas law.

"One of the strengths of the law school over the time I've been here has been oil and gas law," Dean Thomas J. Romig said. "It's something that attracts students to come to Washburn to study."

Many of the significant scholarly resources used in the practice and teaching of oil and gas law are associated with Washburn. Pierce is the author of the Kansas Oil and Gas Handbook, a co-author of the West casebook Cases and Materials on Oil and Gas Law, and the West hornbook Hemingway Oil and Gas Law and Taxation. He is a co-editor and upkeep author of the multi-volume treatise Kuntz, A Treatise on Oil and Gas Law and co-editor of the Oil and Gas Reporter. He is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, which awarded him the 2012 Clyde O. Martz Teaching Award. This award recognizes excellence in teaching natural resources law, by fostering a broad understanding of the law, mentoring students, and for innovative teaching style.

The school of law has four additional centers: the Business and Transactional Law Center, the Children and Family Law Center, the Center for Excellence in Advocacy, and the Center for Law and Government.