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Katherine M. Gafner

Fax +1.412.355.6501
Ms. Gafner advises and advocates on behalf of energy clients with respect to numerous aspects of their business, including litigation, appellate matters, government enforcement, real estate, crisis management, and oil and gas transactions. Her litigation practice focuses on representing energy clients in a variety of sectors, including oil and gas, renewables, and mining, before federal and state trial and appellate courts as well as local governing bodies.

In addition to her litigation practice, Ms. Gafner practices in the areas of investigations, enforcement, and white collar crime, advising companies subject to federal and state investigations across the United States. Ms. Gafner is experienced in performing internal investigations as well as defending clients against federal and state agencies.

As a member of the firm’s crisis management team, Ms. Gafner also counsels clients in crisis management events by providing on-site response and post-incident support.

Ms. Gafner is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Professional Background

Ms. Gafner was a judicial extern for the Honorable Arthur J. Schwab in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Before her career in law, Ms. Gafner was a high school science teacher in Western Pennsylvania.


  • Selected by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers© magazine for inclusion in the Rising Stars list of top young lawyers in the state in 2019

Professional/Civic Activities

  • Leadership Development Initiative, Class of XXIV
  • Selected by The Incline for Who’s Next: Law, June 15, 2017
  • Energy and Mineral Law Foundation
  • Marcellus Shale Coalition

Speaking Engagements

  • “What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You, Right? Ethical Considerations in Internal Investigations,” K&L Gates GC University, November 14, 2018.
  • “What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You, Right? Resolving the Inherent Tension Between the Yates Memo and the Collective Knowledge Doctrine in Environmental Criminal Enforcement Actions,” Energy & Mineral Law Foundation 39th Annual Institute, Nashville, June 17-19, 2018
  • Energy & Mineral Law Foundation Careers in Energy Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, October 10, 2017
  • “Minimizing the Intrusion of an Enforcement Action,” In-House Counsel Presentation, October 6, 2017
  • “The Regulatory Climate, Investigations, and Responses,” In-House Counsel Presentation, July 27, 2016
  • “Litigation and Regulatory Considerations,” Energy Industry Training Series: Oil and Gas Economics/Investing (A Practical Primer), Pittsburgh, August 29, 2013
  • “Oil and Gas Taxation Issues in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia,” Lorman Education Services, Pittsburgh, June 21, 2013

Additional Information

Additional Publications
Energy and Construction Disputes
Trial Court Litigation
  • Counsel to major oil and gas producers in class action lease bonus payment disputes in federal and state court in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
  • Served as counsel to a midstream company in pursuing a $20 million claim for defective design and construction of one of the largest retaining walls in the eastern United States.
  • Counsel to oil and gas producer in water contamination dispute in state court.
  • Represented oil and gas producer in dispute regarding joint operating agreement and participation agreement.
  • Counsel to a publicly-traded energy company in connection with dispute against prime contractor for natural gas processing facilities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
  • Represented international energy company regarding liabilities in wrongful death action.
  • Defended major international oil and gas producer in injunction proceedings related to seismic trespass issues.
  • Represented oil and gas producers in resolving disputes with landowners regarding pooling/unitization and implied lease obligations.
Appellate Representation
  • Obtained affirmance from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in oil and gas lease termination case involving dual-purpose lease issues.
  • Briefed and orally argued on behalf of major international oil and gas producer, obtaining affirmance in lease termination dispute before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
  • Served as appellate counsel for oil and gas producer in defense of lease termination dispute in state court regarding development obligations and commencement of operations.
  • Represented major international oil and gas producer in contract dispute arising out of a joint venture agreement before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Investigations, Enforcement and White Collar
  • Following an 18-month federal Grand Jury investigation of alleged Clean Air Act violations, obtained a declination of prosecution on behalf of a publicly-traded energy company.
  • Defended an energy client in a parallel investigation conducted by DOJ and SEC focused on allegations of securities fraud related to the abandonment of a first-of-a-kind construction project.
  • Represented a multinational energy company in an SEC investigation focused on potential securities fraud violations by a related entity.
  • Defended a Fortune 500 company cooperating with multiple simultaneous federal grand jury investigations focused on violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and other international fraud and money-laundering-related allegations.
  • Represented leading oil and gas producer responding to inquiries initiated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Anti-Trust Section and Bureau of Consumer Protection.
  • Represented government contractor during investigation into allegations that its employees provided illegal gratuities and improper gifts to government employees, resulting in declination of prosecution for contractor, charges against implicated government employees, and termination of implicated contractor employees.
Land Use and Zoning
  • Counsel to a midstream company in successfully challenging the application of subdivision and land development approval to natural gas pipeline development.
  • Represented oil and gas producers and midstream companies in negotiating and obtaining municipal subdivision, land development, and zoning permits for well pads, pipelines, and compressor stations.
  • Counsel to major oil and gas producer in challenging permit conditions before zoning hearing board.
Crisis Management
  • Provided on-site crisis management to a major international oil and gas producer after an uncontrolled release of oil and gas and fatality, including advising on evidence collection/retention, expert retention, interfacing with government regulators, representing witnesses during on-site interviews, and coordinating crisis response operations. The representation included post-incident advice regarding root cause analysis, litigation, and regulatory issues arising out of the event.
  • Provided crisis management training to oil and gas producer and local, state, and federal agencies, including real-time mock crisis scenarios.
Energy Transactional Projects
  • Counsel to a major waste disposal company in the sale of oil and gas assets to a publicly traded Appalachian E&P company.
  • Counsel to a major publicly traded oil and gas producer and its joint venture partner in the negotiation and sale of a subsidiary to the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company.
Pro Bono
  • Representing non-profit organization serving veterans in obtaining use variance and subsequent appeal to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
  • Representing victims of domestic abuse to obtain final Protection From Abuse orders.
  • Representing prisoner-plaintiff in Section 1983 action where the plaintiff received inadequate medical care during incarceration, resulting in monetary settlement.