Friday, October 15, 2021
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Legal Briefs, Legal Perspective

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Legal Perspective

Energy Transfer prevails; what does it mean for Texas?

As landowners and pipeline companies in Texas navigate the evolving rules regarding whether and how a pipeline company may use powers of eminent domain to take private property, it is interesting to watch what happens in other states. Recently, in Iowa, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners was victorious over a group of landowners seeking to block state regulators from granting eminent domain authority to Energy Transfer for its “Dakota Access” pipeline. The court found that the landowner must seek relief through Iowa’s administrative process in the Iowa Utilities Board rather than the courts. The Iowa Utilities Board is set to hear evidence relating to Energy Transfer’s right to condemn later this year.

In Texas, Energy Transfer is gearing up to build the Trans-Pecos pipeline, the first pipeline of its kind in Big Bend. Unlike in Iowa, however, current law would not require landowners seeking to block the pipeline’s use of eminent domain power to first pursue such claims before the Texas Railroad Commission. As was the case in Texas Rice Land Partners, Ltd. v. Denbury Green Pipeline—Texas, LLC, landowners in Texas tend to challenge a pipeline company’s power to condemn when the company seeks court intervention in order to survey the property where the pipeline is planned. Although changes to the law have been proposed in the past, the Texas Railroad Commission currently does not provide a forum to litigate the right to condemn.

– Mary Barkley & Chris Brown, Cantey Hanger LLP

Chris Odionu joins TAMU Law

Texas A&M University School of Law hired Chris Odionu – photo – as the director of distance education programs and adjunct professor of project management.

In his new role, Odionu will oversee the development of leading-edge graduate law programs, with an emphasis on the delivery of courses via distance learning.

“I am thrilled to join the Aggie Law family,” Odionu said. “Distance education has already had a profound impact on legal education, and that will only continue. My goal is to take this widely adopted learning platform and transform it into a best-in-class offering for the legal academy.”

Odionu has more than 20 years of project management experience. William Byrnes, TAMU Law’s associate dean of special projects, will be working with Odionu to develop the program.

“Chris’ multi-disciplinary reach of engineering, IT, project management and a doctorate in education will propel Texas A&M Law’s pedagogical approach to the frontier for career-based law programs,” Byrnes said. “By example, Texas A&M’s Business Law focus is to mentor the Aggie to add value and generate revenue. The process requires the Aggie to learn a business by studying its language, its industry and commonalities among all business such as supply chain and project management. Chris shares this perspective as well, making him a practical and powerful hire for our students.”

Odionu is a fellow of the American Academy of Project Management and certified in the governance of enterprise information technology and in risk and information systems control. He received his bachelor’s degree in technology, MBA and doctorate in educational technology and administration from the University of Houston. He served as an administrative fellow in a year-long academic program at Harvard University where he earned a certificate in administration.

“Chris’ hands-on understanding of big data and data warehouse techniques combined with his background as an associate professor of information systems will distinguish Texas A&M’s curriculum, particularly in tax and business,” said TAMU Law Dean Andrew P. Morriss. “Moreover, his project management background will add a critical dimension to the classroom, imparting critical skills our graduates can use to stay competitive.”

Ben E. Keith changes legal leadership

David Greenlee, general counsel and secretary of Ben E. Keith Co., has retired after serving the Fort Worth-based foodservice and beverage distributor for 33 years.

Craig Woodcook, who began his career with the company in 1997, has been named Greenlee’s successor as well as vice president of legal affairs.

During his tenure with Ben E. Keith, Woodcook attended night classes and obtained a master’s degree in economics from the University of North Texas in 2001, a law degree from Texas Wesleyan School of Law in 2005 and a master of law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law in 2009. In 2010, he was promoted to assistant general counsel.

Woodcook also serves on the State Fair of Texas board of directors.

Professional ranking service recognizes Cantey Hanger

Cantey Hanger LLP has been ranked among the top 150 law firms under 150 attorneys in the United States by Vault, an online ranking service for several professional industries.

To compile the ranking, Vault said it “developed a list of the best-known and most sought-after U.S. firms with fewer than 150 attorneys.” Its editorial and research teams then studied Vault survey data, news stories, trade journals and other legal publications; spoke with lawyers in the field; and reviewed other published rankings. Vault editors also assessed each firm for prestige, quality of life and professional growth opportunities.

Cantey Hanger, established in 1882, is a full-service law firm with offices in Fort Worth and Dallas, and represents clients in a variety of practice areas, including aviation; bankruptcy; commercial litigation; corporate, banking and real estate; environmental; health and insurance; labor and employment; estate planning and probate; tax; public and regulatory; and oil and gas.

TAMU Law Professor Irene Calboli Elected as ALI Member

Texas A&M University School of Law Professor Irene Calboli – photo – is one of 72 newly elected members of the American Law Institute (ALI).

Based in Philadelphia, ALI produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law, according to its website. The members of the institute “influence the development” of the drafting and publishing of restatements of the law, model codes and principles of law that contribute to legal scholarship and education.

Caboli, who is also on faculty at Singapore Management University School of Law as the Lee Kong Chian Fellow, visiting professor, and deputy director of the Applied Research Centre for Intellectual Assets and the Law in Asia, is one of three international members.

She joins seven TAMU Law faculty who are existing ALI members: Dean and Anthony G. Buzbee Dean’s Endowed Chair Andrew Morriss, Dean Emeritus Frank Elliott, and Professors Susan Fortney, Paul George, Michael Z. Green, Bill Henning and Meg Penrose.

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