Shanisha Y. Smith

Associate

Denver
T +1.303.764.4058
F +1.303.861.7805

Overview

Shanisha Smith focuses her litigation practice in the energy and natural resources industry. She represents clients in oil and gas litigation and environmental disputes governed by the Mineral Leasing Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the False Claims Act, the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act, and numerous other environmental statutes and related regulations. Shanisha holds an LL.M. in Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Law from the University of Houston Law Center. While earning her LL.M., she worked at the Texas Railroad Commission, as well as at the Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos during the Mexico Energy Reform.

Shanisha also has a wealth of experience working in courts. She had the opportunity to work with a Texas state civil court judge, a federal magistrate judge, two federal district court judges and a federal appellate circuit judge. Prior to joining BakerHostetler's Energy Team, Shanisha clerked for the Honorable Judge George C. Hanks, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Drawing on her knowledge of the energy industry and her well-honed skills developed during her clerkship, Shanisha is a dedicated advocate who confidently adapts to unique situations.

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While working toward her postgraduate degree, Shanisha won a $10,000 award for the Texas Energy Innovation Challenge – Power Across Texas. Focusing on law and regulatory opportunities and barriers that enabled the commercialization of GeoThermH2O, Shanisha was part of a team that obtained a provisional United States patent.

Select Experience

Energy and Environmental Litigation
  • Assisted in the representation of an oil and gas producer in a suit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding drilling application processing time. The client maintains that it had met all requirements necessary for the applications despite BLM's approval delay. Received mandamus from the federal court forcing BLM to issue oil and gas drilling permits as required under the Mineral Leasing Act.
Gulf of Mexico
  • Advised an American multinational energy corporation on a master development plan challenge.
Regulatory
  • Counsel for a national oil and gas trade association involved in efforts to review and prepare comments on how the Department of the Interior can improve implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies, and to identify regulations appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.
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Experience

Energy and Environmental Litigation
  • Assisted in the representation of an oil and gas producer in a suit against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding drilling application processing time. The client maintains that it had met all requirements necessary for the applications despite BLM's approval delay. Received mandamus from the federal court forcing BLM to issue oil and gas drilling permits as required under the Mineral Leasing Act.
  • Member of the defense team representing independent natural gas and oil producers in various federal royalty audits and appeals.
  • Advised an energy company to amend a Bureau of Land Management Communitization Agreement to seek the overpayment of royalties.
  • Member of a defense team for an independent oil and gas company in ongoing Department of Justice civil investigation pursuant to the False Claims Act for allegedly underpaid royalties on natural gas.
  •  Represents energy companies in class action and individual suits alleging improper deduction of downstream costs from royalties owed under private leases.
Gulf of Mexico
  • Advised an American multinational energy corporation on a master development plan challenge.
  • Prepared appellate documents from adverse regulatory ruling for American multinational energy corporation involving deepwater project.
Regulatory
  • Counsel for a national oil and gas trade association involved in efforts to review and prepare comments on how the Department of the Interior can improve implementation of regulatory reform initiatives and policies, and to identify regulations appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.
International
  • Worked with Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos during Mexico’s Energy Reform, providing advice to the attorneys and commissioners within the organization on shale gas, international model contracts, the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Water Treaty, the hiring of talent, foreign investors, administrative reforms to improve the competitiveness of Mexico, and the regulation and bidding processes.
  • Worked with the Legal Assistance Centre of Namibia on corporal punishment issues. Broadcasted from Namibia’s radio station (Namibia’s Broadcasting Corporation, NBC) informing the community on Namibian law and crafted “radio friendly” law scripts that encouraged the attention of the listener. Analyzed and inputted data in a database on children’s views on corporal punishment in Namibia.
  • Worked on groundwater conservation and financial assurance issues, providing research and memoranda on issues related to administrative law, oil and gas, and Railroad Commission rules in Texas.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • State Bar of Texas, Environmental & Natural Resources Law Section Award (2014)

Memberships

  • American Bar Association
    • Section of Litigation, Judicial Intern Opportunity Program (JIOP)
  • Houston Bar Association
    • John J. Eikenburg Law Week Fun Run Committee
    • Houston Volunteer Lawyers Committee
    • Special Olympics Committee
    • Minority Opportunities in the Legal Profession Committee
  • Houston Young Lawyers Association
  • Association of International Petroleum Negotiators
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
  • State Bar of Texas
  • The Downtown Group
  • Sam Cary Bar Association
  • Western Energy Alliance
  • Women's Energy Network
  • Colorado Women's Bar Association

Community

  • Special Olympics
  • Denver Petroleum Club
  • Colorado CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children): Board Member

Industries

Prior Positions

  • Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Judge George C. Hanks Jr., United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (2015 to 2016)
  • Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos: Energy Fellow (2014)
  • Railroad Commission of Texas: Fellow (2014)
  • Judicial Intern for the Honorable Judge Harold R. DeMoss Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (2014)
  • Judicial Intern for the Honorable Kenneth M. Hoyt, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (2013)
  • Center for U.S. and Mexican Law: Research Assistant (2013 to 2014)
  • Legal Assistance Centre of Namibia: Intern (2010)

Admissions

  • U.S. District Court, District of Colorado
  • Texas
  • Colorado

Education

  • LL.M., International Law & Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Law, University of Houston Law Center, 2014, with honors, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN) Scholarship Recipient (2013)
  • J.D., Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law, 2013; cum laude; Associate Editor, Thurgood Marshall Law Review; International Moot Court, Board of Advocates; CALI Awards for Federal Jurisdiction, Commercial Law and Appellate Litigation
  • B.S., Sociology, Lincoln University, 2010, cum laude, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
  • Joint Programme in International Law, University College London (London, England), Southern University Law Center, 2011
  • Corporate Law, Polytechnic of Namibia (Windhoek, Namibia), 2010