Burleson, a Houston-based oil and gas firm, has opened an office in Midland to capitalize on the boom in drilling in the Permian Basin. Frank Hunold, former general counsel of Reliant Holdings and Reliant Exploration and Production in Midland, is managing partner of the new office.

Firm founder Richard Burleson says the Midland office officially opened in mid-November with Hunold and three associates, but the lawyers have been working out of temporary space. He says the firm’s offices in Midland Tower should be ready in six to eight weeks, and the firm expects to ramp up with a number of additional hires in Midland by early 2013.

Hunold says he doesn’t anticipate trouble finding lawyers for the Midland office.

“The environment out here is so exciting now that there are a lot of lawyers that are really interested in coming to Midland if they are not here already,” he says.

Hunold says he jumped at the opportunity to return to private practice and to help Burleson build an office in Midland. He says there are many good attorneys in Midland doing oil and gas work, but they are “covered up with work” and there’s plenty of room for Burleson.

“We also feel strongly that the oil and gas environment in Midland is stabilized and will be strong into the future,” he says.

The associates in Midland are Lani Bower, who transferred from the firm’s San Antonio office, and new hires Dustin Oslick and Amanda White.

Burleson says lawyers from the firm’s San Antonio office have been doing work in Midland for the last couple years, but the firm decided to open an office in Midland because “people in Midland like doing business with local firms.”

“As great as we felt our lawyers were that were traveling there from San Antonio, the reaction we’ve gotten in the past two weeks since we’ve been there is different. It’s just a different feeling,” he says.

Burleson declines to identify clients in Midland, but he says the firm, which also has offices in Pittsburgh and Denver, moves into a market by doing oil and gas title work and then expanding into corporate and litigation.

Midland is a natural location for the firm, Burleson says. “We are the largest oil and gas firm in the country and . . . in the Permian Basin, there’s somewhere between a quarter and half of the oil rigs in the country.”

Burleson notes that his firm has grown from two lawyers in 2005 to 130 today by focusing on the oil and gas business.

“The shale boom has provided us with this opportunity, but I will say we’ve been opportunistic,” he says.