Philadelphia-based Spector Gadon & Rosen has started an energy and environmental practice group with the addition of environmental lawyer Kermit L. Rader, who will chair the group.

Rader, whose practice includes environmental remediations, compliance, transactions and litigation, as well as oil and gas pipeline and leasing agreements, joined the firm November 1 as a member from Lansdale, Pa.-based Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin, where he was co-chairman of the environmental practice.

Steven F. Gadon, managing director of Spector Gadon, said the firm is hoping that adding energy and environmental capabilities will allow it to get involved in the Marcellus Shale plays across the state, which he called “the future.”

Gadon said that while Spector Gadon had not done that type of work in the past, Rader has and he brings a client book to the firm that can be built upon.

Rader said he left Hamburg Rubin because he was looking for more opportunity to grow his practice, adding that he eventually chose Spector Gadon in part because its existing client base already had a need for his services.

When asked whether he anticipates it will be a challenge for a Southeastern Pennsylvania firm to get involved in oil and gas work when the majority of drilling activity is currently concentrated in the central and western part of the state, Rader said he’s been focusing on North Central Pennsylvania for most of his oil and gas work because “there really aren’t that many lawyers in that area of the state with experience in the area of gas law.”

“I’m not really attempting to market in Southwestern Pennsylvania because there are a number of lawyers there that already have that expertise and I don’t think I can compete with that,” Rader said. “In North Central Pennsylvania that’s not really true.”

While Rader said he has seen a slowdown in leasing since low gas prices caused drilling activity to shift away from the “dry” gas regions in North Central Pennsylvania toward more lucrative “wet” gas regions in Western Pennsylvania, he added that he’s remained busy with work related to lease interpretations and enforcement issues.

Rader also noted that pipeline activity has continued in North Central Pennsylvania despite the slowdown in leasing, which he said he believes to be only a temporary setback anyway.

Gadon had a similar take, noting that he’s hopeful more oil and gas work will eventually make its way to the eastern part of the state, particularly the Pocono region.

Regardless, Gadon said, because Rader brought business with him to the firm, Spector Gadon does not stand to lose anything by attempting to jump into the oil and gas fray.

“Unless you’re ready, willing and able to do it, you won’t do it,” Gadon said. “By having somebody like Kermit, we’re hoping it’s going to come about.”

Spector Gadon is not the first Southeastern Pennsylvania firm to set its sights on the burgeoning oil and gas industry in the state.

In fact, when Rader joined Hamburg Rubin in December 2009, he did so in part to coordinate the firm’s then-new gas leasing and development practice group.

More recently, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based environmental boutique Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox, another former firm of Rader’s, opened a Williamsport, Pa., office in August to better serve a Central Pennsylvania client base that has grown in conjunction with the rise of the natural gas industry in the region.

In addition, large Philadelphia firms such as Pepper Hamilton and Duane Morris have energy and environmental practices geared toward the Marcellus Shale.

Along with oil and gas work, Gadon said his firm will now also be able to do environmental work for its existing clients.

In the past, Gadon said, the firm was always forced to refer that work out to other firms.

Rader said that, in addition to his oil and gas work, he continues to handle a lot of environmental cleanup and regulatory matters.

According to Gadon, his firm chose Rader to spearhead the new practice because he has “great credibility” and “a great curriculum vitae.”

Rader began his career in government, eventually becoming chair of the Superfund section of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Mid-Atlantic region before joining Manko Gold.

From there, Rader left to become chair of Wolf Block’s environmental and land use practice group, a position he held until the firm imploded in March 2009.

About seven months later, he joined Hamburg Rubin.

Zack Needles can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or Follow him on Twitter @ZNeedlesTLI.