I had the opportunity over the last several weeks to review a new publication by John R. Childers and Joe W. Judd. It’s called the Landman Lease and Title Manual and is being sold on Amazon.com. The book description on Amazon is very straightforward:
The Landman Lease and Title Manual is designed to impart upon the new and lightly experienced landman the essential skills and knowledge necessary to work in the oil and gas industry. The manual is not designed as a substitute for the traditional mentor-type learning characteristic of the oil and gas industry, nor is the manual a treatise on the law of oil and gas or land titles. The Landman Field Manual, rather, is structured to aid in development of essential title research skills and in understanding Texas oil, gas and land title law as it relates to the work performed by field landmen.
From the description I’m sure that you can ascertain that this book is not designed to be terribly informative for those with 3-5 years (or more) of experience in field landwork. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the authors themselves aren’t qualified. Both Mr. Childers and Mr. Judd are graduates of St. Mary’s University School of Law and have been active as land managers since around 2005.
You should also not make the mistake of thinking that the book won’t be an excellent reference volume, keep reading to find out why.
I always appreciate when a book intended for those with “light experience” is written in a way that those people can understand it. It’s something I was specifically watching as I read the manual. All of the topics are presented in a way that explains the concepts without belittling the reader.
Another thing that I appreciate is that the book has been edited well, it seems that most publications that don’t come from major publishing houses are rife with errors, punctuation mistakes, misspellings, etc. That is not the case with the Landman Lease and Title Manual, which is a testament to the professionalism of the authors.
First off I’d like to let everyone have a look at the Table of Contents for the book, as I obviously can’t discuss every section the book covers. You’ll see that it covers a pretty diverse range of topics such as deed plotting, title research, leasing basics, a fair amount of background on Texas mineral law, pooling and unitization, and agreements like farmouts and joint operating agreements.
To learn more about Joint Operating Agreements see my article reviewing an AAPL seminar on the subject: AAPL – Joint Operating Agreements Class
The book also has a lot of background information in the Appendix section: Lease Clauses, Texas Descent and Distribution, Texas Mineral Statutes, Texas Railroad Commission Offices, Texas County Clerk’s Offices, and Professional Organizations.
I was impressed that the book provided a great overview of the topics, it also went into detail on some specific issues that field landmen face. It discussed things like the Duhig rule, well spacing (Rule 37 and Rule 38 in Texas), different types of mineral ownership like co-tenancy and community property, and the various types of warranties (and lack of) provided for in various instruments. While the book does focus on a good bit of Texas specific information, it will be useful for the lightly experienced landman in other states as well. The authors do a good job of specifying when the information presented in specific to Texas, or if it is a general rule.
When I was reading through this book one thing that stood out to me was that this would be a great prep tool for anyone who was preparing to take the RL or RPL certification test with the AAPL. It covers most of the material on those tests, and in some cases provides more detail than the study guide for those tests.
This book is not the thick novel you might receive if you purchased a book on case law, and it’s not intended to be. The manual clocks in at 117 pages, but the space is well used. I felt like I received a educated overview of the various topics listed in the table of contents. This book is available from Amazon in a print version for $69.99, or on Kindle for $59.99 — which is an exceedingly fair price for a reference volume.
I believe this book, the Landman Lease and Title Manual, would be a great bit of reading for anyone with less than 3 (and possibly 5) years of experience. It is also a handy desk reference for a variety of subjects. I’ll be recommending this book as a primer for anyone who is looking to get into the industry, and as required reading for any novice landmen who are looking to enhance their knowledge of the field.