Phillips Murrah attorneys selected as 2017 Super Lawyers

Phillips Murrah P.C._Logo_Color_emblemTwenty Phillips Murrah Attorneys have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 edition of Thomson Reuters’ Super Lawyers for their excellence in their respective practice areas. Seven attorneys of them under the age of 40 were recognized as Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers,a division of Thomson Reuters, is a research-driven, peer influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The Super Lawyers lists are published in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Using the same patented process for selecting Super Lawyers, Rising Stars recognizes up and coming lawyers who are 40 years old or younger and have been in practice for 10 years or less.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Super Lawyers:

Directors G. Calvin Sharpe and Lyndon W. Whitmire were among the Top 50 Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017. Directors Shannon K. Emmons and Sally A. Hasenfratz were listed on the Top 25 Women Oklahoma Super Lawyers for 2017.

The following Phillips Murrah attorneys are included in 2017’s Oklahoma Rising Stars:

Phillips Murrah announces 37 attorneys named to 2018 Best Lawyers list

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce that 37 of our attorneys have been named to The Best Lawyers in America© 2018 list in Oklahoma City.

The Best Lawyers in America 2018

Jennifer Ivester Berry – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Real Estate Law

Douglas A. Branch – Securities / Capital Markets Law; Venture Capital Law

Elizabeth K. Brown – Litigation – Trusts and Estates; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Michael D. Carter – Workers’ Compensation Law – Employers

Rodney L. Cook – Insurance Law

Bobby Dolatabadi – Corporate Law; Mergers and Acquisitions Law

Jason A. Dunn – Commercial Litigation

Joshua L. Edwards – Real Estate Law

Marc Edwards – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Commercial Litigation; Government Relations Practice

Nicholle Jones Edwards – Family Law

Shannon K. Emmons – Commercial Litigation; Employment Law – Management; Employment Law – Individuals

Juston R. Givens – Commercial Litigation

Sally A. Hasenfratz – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Construction Law; Land Use and Zoning Law; Real Estate Law

Terry L. Hawkins – Public Finance Law

Heather L. Hintz – Commercial Litigation

Timothy D. Kline – Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy

Fred A. Leibrock – Commercial Litigation; Insurance Law; Litigation – Antitrust; Litigation – ERISA; Litigation – Real Estate

Candace Williams Lisle – Commercial Litigation

Mark Lovelace – Banking and Finance Law; Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Commercial Transactions / UCC Law

Melvin R. McVay, Jr. – Banking and Finance Law; Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Banking and Finance; Litigation – Bankruptcy; Litigation – Real Estate

Andrew S. Mildren – Administrative / Regulatory Law; Government Relations Practice

Jennifer L. Miller – Commercial Litigation

Cindy H. Murray – Real Estate Law

Robert O. O’Bannon – Business Organizations (including LLCs and Partnerships); Tax Law

Martin G. Ozinga – Commercial Litigation

Donald A. Pape – Banking and Finance Law

Michael R. Perri – Commercial Litigation; Energy Law; Natural Resources Law; Oil and Gas Law

William S. Price – Government Relations Practice

Dawn M. Rahme – Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation and Controversy – Tax; Tax Law; Trusts and Estates

Mary Holloway Richard – Health Care Law

Jim A. Roth – Energy Law; Energy Regulatory Law; Environmental Law; Government Relations Practice; Natural Resources Law

G. Calvin Sharpe – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants; Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

Robert N. Sheets – Commercial Litigation; Litigation – Land Use and Zoning; Litigation – Real Estate

Ellen K. Spiropoulos – Corporate Law

Lyndon W. Whitmire – Commercial Litigation; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Thomas G. Wolfe – Bet-the-Company Litigation; Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Raymond E. Zschiesche – Commercial Litigation; Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants; Product Liability Litigation – Defendants

Firm selects May Employee of the Month

Barb Robertson

Barb Robertson, Legal Assistant, is Phillips Murrah’s Employee of the Month for May 2017.

“What an honor to be chosen Employee of the Month,” she said. “Phillips Murrah has a lot of great employees, and it humbles me to be chosen for this honor by my friends.

“It is really great to be able to come to work each day and see my friends. It is just like college only better;  this time around I’m being paid!”

The Employee of the Month is selected anonymously by Phillips Murrah staff on merits of teamwork and overall contributions to the Firm.

“Barb works hard to keep everyone calm and focused at the 11th hour when things are going crazy,” said Jennifer Ivester Berry, Of Counsel Attorney. “She never hesitates to go above and beyond to help get the project completed.”

Phillips Murrah has been recognized as an Oklahoma Top Work Place by The Oklahoman/WorkplaceDynamics two years in a row. Our Firm strives to recognize and reward our employees for excellence. Each Employee of the Month is chosen by a monthly survey of peers.

Three Phillips Murrah attorneys listed in Chambers USA 2017

Phillips Murrah is proud to announce real estate attorneys John D. Hastie, Sally A. Hasenfratz, and Jennifer Ivester Berry have been selected for inclusion in Chambers & Partners’ Chambers USA 2017 guide.

Chambers researchers offered the following comments on each attorney:

John Hastie is singled out by interviewees as ‘the dean of real estate.’ He has longstanding experience working on real estate transactions encompassing property acquisitions, leasing and construction. Additionally, he assists clients on loan workouts and debt restructurings.”

Sally Hasenfratz is endorsed as a ‘class act to work with’ and someone who ‘makes you feel that you’re going to get through this!’ Her roster of work includes matters connected with properties such as shopping centers and condominiums, in addition to her skills in the tax law and financing areas.”

“Of Counsel Attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry’s real estate practice centers around advising on developments, acquisitions and leases. She is also regularly approached by energy companies to assist with the financing and construction of renewable energy facilities.”

Hastie has been listed annually in Chambers’ guides since 2003, and Hasenfratz and Berry have been listed since 2010. Phillips Murrah is selected as a Band 2 law firm.

Read more about Phillips Murrah’s inclusion here.

Commercial lease covers it all – right?

Gavel to Gavel appears in The Journal Record. This column was originally published in The Journal Record on April 20, 2017.

Jennifer Ivester Berry is a member of the firm’s Transactional Practice Group as an Of Counsel attorney. Jennifer represents individuals, privately-held and public companies in connection with a wide range of commercial real property matters.

By Phillips Murrah Of Counsel Attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry

For those involved in leasing commercial real estate – whether new to leasing or a seasoned industry pro – signing a lease can be a daunting endeavor.

The devil is in the details, and, more often than not, many standard forms omit critical considerations. Accordingly, a close examination of the terms is essential for a quality commercial lease.

Below are five important points to consider when leasing commercial property. These items are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather a starting point for the purposes of evaluation.

• Experience – Knowing the background and temperament of the other party is important. Is leasing commercial property the landlord’s primary business? Will a management company operate the property? Is the tenant established or just starting out? A knowledgeable, cooperative working relationship is imperative for a successful commercial lease.

• Type of lease – Details of what costs are covered and how they are apportioned should be carefully reviewed. For example, leases often described as triple net, meaning that the tenant is responsible for all costs associated with the leased premises other than structural repairs, can actually be a blend of two types of leases, triple net and gross. A gross lease splits the structural repairs and operation expenses between the landlord and tenant.

• Identification of leased premises – Often the outline of the space and delineation of its parameters is an attachment that does not make it into the lease until the end of the negotiations. It is important to verify up front that what is provided meets both parties’ expectations.

• Costs – Payments under a commercial lease can be categorized in several different ways, including rent, common area maintenance, assessments and dues. Awareness that a lower rental rate might be counterbalanced by a monthly fee for maintenance of the property, which is set to automatically increase each year, is essential. The ultimate focus should be on the full monthly cost, regardless of what it is called under the lease.

• Insurance – Insurance coverage requirements will vary based on lease type. It is important to identify two things: what the lease requires and whether such coverage is available, and whether the cost associated therewith is factored into the overall lease costs.

Jennifer Ivester Berry is an attorney at Phillips Murrah who specializes in commercial real estate property and energy-related matters.

PM attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry to discuss wind energy for ABA CLE course

Jennifer Ivester Berry is a member of the firm’s Transactional Practice Group as an Of Counsel attorney. She has a solid reputation in guiding real estate transactions with a focus on development, financing, and energy. Jennifer represents individuals, privately-held and public companies in connection with a wide range of commercial real property matters.

Jennifer Ivester Berry has a solid reputation in guiding real estate transactions with a focus on development, financing and energy. Jennifer represents individuals, privately-held and public companies in connection with a wide range of commercial real property matters.

Phillips Murrah attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry will be a panelist for a discussion about issues that arise in the wind development project process as a result of competing land uses. She will also present strategies for addressing such disputes, specifically competing interests of the oil and gas industry with renewable energy development.

The program, The World of Wind Development – Recent Land Use Cases and Issues, is a part of the American Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education program.

Format: Webinar
Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm ET

The panel will also include:

The panelists will discuss other land use issues in wind development projects and recent cases in the United States and Canada addressing challenges to wind energy development:

  • Zoning and permitting issues
  • Wildlife studies related to wind energy projects
  • Common land use provisions included in wind farm easements
  • Recent case law in Ontario dismissing claims that wind development would adversely impact public health
  •  Off-site wind development

Eminent domain raises questions when used on behalf of the private sector

Jennifer Berry Photo

Jennifer Ivester Berry is an attorney with a solid reputation in guiding real estate transactions with a focus on development, financing and energy. She represents individuals, and privately-held and public companies in connection with a wide range of commercial real property matters.

Q&A from NewsOK: Phillips Murrah attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry discusses the what, when, how and why of eminent domain.

View Jennifer Ivester Berry’s attorney profile page here.

By Paula Burkes – Published: March 25, 2015
View the article at here.

Q: What is eminent domain?

A: Eminent domain, condemnation, taking power — these words sound ominous and forceful, as if the party on the receiving end has no choice but to succumb to the directive of the imposing party and give up something for nothing. However, stop for a moment and remember that with most constitutionally created powers come some series of checks and balances. Eminent domain, in its most simplistic form, is the power to acquire private property for a public use, provided that the property owner receives just compensation. Some of the most recognizable uses of the eminent domain power are for the establishment of roadways, hospitals, railroads and utilities. In more recent years, the use of eminent domain for purposes of economic development has sparked a public policy debate that will no doubt continue for years to come.

Q: When can eminent domain be used?

A: The power of eminent domain originates from the state’s constitution, and the Oklahoma Legislature enacts statutes that set out the manner, purpose and through whom such power may be exercised — a system of checks and balances. For example, municipalities are granted a general power of condemnation under the state statutes, so long as the taking is for a public use and the property owner is adequately compensated. There are certain circumstances and uses that the Legislature has identified as being for the benefit of the public and thus created specific statutes covering them, for example, the removal of dilapidated buildings, the improvement of water and sewer systems, and urban renewal. The Legislature also conferred the power of eminent domain on utility companies, public enterprises and common carriers. Private individuals or companies also may utilize the power of eminent domain for agricultural, mining and sanitary purposes, as well as for establishing private roadways where access in an issue.

Q: How does eminent domain work?

A: The party seeking to condemn property will usually have attempted to negotiate with the landowner to acquire the property. That said, if a municipality or utility company is dealing with numerous parcels of land with countless owners, using the condemnation proceeding can simplify the process and avoid negotiations that may or may not be successful. Once the condemnation proceeding is filed, the court appoints three individuals (commissioners) who will examine, evaluate and inspect the property. The commissioners are instructed to return an award to the court that reflects the fair market value of the property taken, as well as any injury to any part of the property not taken. The award is payable to the landowner even if the landowner owner contests the award. If, as a result of a contest, a jury finds the fair market value of the property to be an amount in excess of 10 percent of the commissioners’ award, the landowner may be entitled to reasonable attorneys and expert fees.

Q: Why do we need eminent domain?

A: Using eminent domain to obtain property for roadways and utilities is rarely a source of contention, even if ultimate ownership of such property is by a private party. The more controversial issue is whether the government can use its eminent domain power to aid a private party. The U.S. Supreme Court has blessed the use of eminent domain as a governmental incentive for economic development. However, numerous states, including Oklahoma, have taken a more narrow view and require that the use of eminent domain power for economic development must involve the removal, elimination or prevention of blight. Proponents of this power, whether the broader or more narrow application of it, argue that without it being available as an incentive for private development, economic development would be stifled significantly. Others, however, feel that failure to value individual property rights actually dissuades potential residents and business from moving into a community and as such cripples any potential for economic growth. One thing is clear, eminent domain will continue to be used for economic development and as such continue to be a debatable issue in the private sector.


Will advances in offshore wind development result in onshore wind graveyards?

This article first appeared via Power Engineering on Nov. 14, 2013.

Jennifer Ivester Berry has a solid reputation in guiding real estate transactions with a focus on development, financing and energy. She represents individuals, privately-held and public companies in connection with a wide range of commercial real property matters.

By Phillips Murrah Attorney Jennifer Ivester Berry

Just over a decade ago, the mention of a “wind farm” in western Oklahoma would have raised more than a few eyebrows. Today, a number of these “farms” have sprung up across open spaces where buffalo once roamed, and more are on the horizon. Similar scenarios have played out across the U.S. since the onset of the modern wind era beginning in the 1980s. Fueled by economic incentives and a growing desire for cheaper and cleaner energy, the U.S. is the leader in land-based wind energy capacity. However, more than 50 percent of the population of the U.S. lives in coastal areas, a reality that has been one of the primary catalysts for recent efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop an offshore wind industry in the U.S. If these efforts are successful, will the land-based wind farms become a thing of the past?

Having stood mostly on the sidelines during the last decade, the U.S. is getting serious about adding wind to its energy portfolio. Renewables currently make up about 5 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S., with natural gas and coal leading in overall generation. While land-based wind farms will provide a good template, the offshore turbines will operate in a much different environment and be subject to elements not found on land. This will require modifications to the subsystems of the turbine, port upgrades, transmission planning and the maneuvering through an infant regulatory system. These challenges will likely result in higher costs and difficulty securing financing. However, once the mold is created, achieving economies of scale should be a matter of time.

Many of the land-based wind farms in the U.S. are located in the heart of the wind corridor of the central plains, but the wind resources available offshore are more abundant. The U.S. coastlines are extensive, and the wind blows stronger and more consistently offshore. Projections indicate that offshore generating capacity is four times what is currently coming on the U.S. grid, and many of the cities that require large amounts of electricity are located near coastal regions so transmission issues will be reduced considerably. Offshore development could inject billions of dollars in economic activity into the U.S. through professional manufacturing, construction and engineering jobs.

The offshore wind industry is still in the early stages of development, which makes the government’s goal of having 54 GW of offshore capacity by 2030 seem pretty lofty. Currently, there are about 20 offshore projects and approximately 2,000 MW in the planning and permitting stages. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is overseeing developments in federal waters and has recently conducted two wind lease auctions – one off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and one off the coast of Virginia. Together, these lease areas are projected to produce enough power to provide electricity to more than one million homes. Lease auctions are expected in the near future for areas off the coasts of Maryland and New Jersey.

The turbines planned for these areas will not be operational for another five to 10 years, largely due to the permitting process, which will take between seven and 10 years. This delay is why some argue that development in state waters will take off at a much quicker pace, and it already has in some areas. While offshore developments within state nautical boundaries might progress at a faster pace, their close proximity to shoreline will limit their size and capacity, and the state and federal governments will have to collaborate if the U.S. is going to succeed in its renewable energy efforts via offshore wind energy.

Even with its paramount benefit of being green and clean, offshore wind development is not without its critics. Most objections stem from its high cost and the likelihood that much of the expertise needed to develop the essential technology would come from overseas. Additional objections focus on concern for the marine habitat, visual effects and noise pollution. Similar concerns existed when land-based wind projects were being developed, which gave way to certain diligence and mitigation requirements related to animal life that will certainly be applied in similar fashion to the offshore developments.

The development of offshore wind projects will no doubt be directly impacted by the advances, or lack thereof, of the coal and natural gas industries. When compared to these “established” forms of energy, wind can look much less attractive. Wind is inherently intermittent and lacks consistency in generation, partly due to the difficulty in efficiently storing the energy generated. However, development of offshore wind energy as an affordable and viable energy source will be necessary if the U.S. is going to expand and diversify its energy portfolio.