In the debate about the future of energy, fracking and the Keystone Pipeline, energy litigator Charles Sartain is opinionated and unfazed.
“So far no one has written to tell me that I’m off their Christmas card list,” said Sartain about being the lead author of the Energy & the Law blog.
Sartain, who mainly represents oil and gas producers or investors for Gray Reed, takes a strong stance for the industry that he serves, whether it’s criticizing the delay in the Keystone Pipeline, keeping tabs on the Environmental Protection Agency or satirizing fracking opponents:
In the controversy over “frackquakes”, brave small-town citizens are standing up to the rapacious oil drillers and their regulatory co-conspirators. Or, a outsiders are stirring up the locals and meddling in matters not of their concern.
While law bloggers typically try to shy away from taking strong stances to avoid client conflict, Sartain is given free reign from Gray Reed.
“I’ve never been asked by the firm not to write about a particular topic or asked not to take a particular point of view. I have given shout outs to clients who I think are doing something good. That’s an example of maybe using the bully pulpit to support a cause, but I’ve never been asked not to write something,” he said. “I’ve never looked at a situation and said ‘I’m not going to write about that because one of our clients might not like that.’ The good news is no one in the firm has complained to me. I’ve never heard anybody say something to me about something that has offended one of our clients.”
Surprisingly, Sartain admits that he doesn’t receive any backlash.
“I don’t have any idea,” said Sartain when asked about why he doesn’t receive any negative feedback. “I just figure people are too busy to write. The reason why I say that is because I read a lot of blogs myself. I have opinions about things I read, but I don’t think I’ve ever responded to a blog. I don’t expect others to.”
With no pushback, Sartain has no desire to change his writing style except he did admit that he plans to write less about climate change and global warming.
“The political [posts] are more fun than the case decisions. But they do have a little more risk associated because it seems like if you’re going to write something about politics, you’re generally going to have to take a stand,” he said. “You speak with more authority if you take a side. I decided for the time being that I’m not going to write any more about global warming or climate change because I’m not an expert in that field. Often times, I’m writing what other people say and it’s gotten to be so politicized …. I’m not sure I would serve my readers by repeating [them.]”
His readers are mostly non-lawyers or inside counsel that are too busy to read individual cases so he writes the majority of his posts with key takeaways in mind.
“My goal is to give the meaning behind the case. Otherwise it’s just dry law. Most people don’t care about … what the three elements are for preserving error in a jury trial. They want to know what the case means in a bigger picture. The takeaways are a good way to do that.”
He considers his blog to be an educational tool, as opposed to a way to gain new clients, because of the nature of the industry he serves.
“[About] the kind of people that we represent, most of them already have a lawyer,” he said. “I think that anyone who would write a blog to generate direct client solicitations would probably be disappointed. It’s an educational tool; it tells [readers] about the law but also a little bit about me and Gray Reed. That’s an indirect benefit in my opinion.”
Sartain has been managing the blog for about two and a half years now and continues because he legitimately enjoys blogging, which he says is essential for any successful blogger:
“Blogging is fun. It’s not worth doing if it’s not fun because the work is too hard and is takes away from other things you could be doing. Anyone one who thinks that blogging is a drudgery shouldn’t be doing it.”