First of all, my disclaimer: I have currently hold no active role in the AAPL and up until about 1:30 pm on Friday May 8, when asked to share my opinion with the Executive Committee, had not participated in any leadership meeting or discussion for about 15 months. My comments below represent my own two cents.
As I mentioned in my comments regarding the proposed changes in the Bylaws of the AAPL, I believe these changes are reflective of how the Land Profession is changing. The change is happening and will continue to happen. I know this may sound harsh, but we as individuals and as an association can either adapt to survive, or wither on the vine.
I have seen comments in many different forums that AAPL needs to do something to stop Landwork outsourcing, what I find interesting is that none of those people seem to have an idea of exactly how AAPL could accomplish that. They want AAPL to lobby, lobby who exactly? If AAPL were to lobby, how could they beat the Real Estate Title Insurance industry who has been outsourcing longer than Landwork has been outsourced.
Other risk to Landmen
There is a risk that all Landmen in the US as well as India and wherever else they may be will face, Artificial Intelligence. This use of the technology has not been perfected yet, but that day will come. One Landman told me about a company that conducted a test of their software in Chambers County, Texas, the results were about 80% accuracy, but that day will come. In-house Land staff are not immune to the future. Many of the administrative data entry tasks, calculations, interpretation and reporting will become more and more automated with Artificial Intelligence such that only a final QC check required by a human being located somewhere with an internet connection. There will still be human beings conducting negotiations with other parties, but with transactions moving to more electronic means, those humans only need a good internet connection.
So, what does the Landman of the future look like?
First of all, I DO NOT think Land Professionals will go away in their entirety, but there will be fewer of us needed as technology improves. All Landmen will need to be tech savvy. Some of those Landmen would be well served to be able to write software code. Even the Surface Landman will need to be able to operate and troubleshoot the interconnected electronics he or she carries on their hip or in their pocket/backpack.
To Include or not to Include, that is the question (thank you Mr. Shakespeare).
In some forums I have seen some question the inclusion of foreign nationals as AAPL members, "What part of American do you not understand" type statements. I see concerns about who qualifies as a Landman; non-petroleum interests, abstractors, anyone who can spell "oil and gas"? Landwork is mostly analytical, not technical, so there is a low barrier to entry into the profession with few specialized educational requirements. For some time AAPL has used Negotiations as the key function that separates Landmen from other Land Professionals, so a Lease Buyer who has no idea as to the mineral ownership of the Lessor other than what is on the Mineral Ownership Report qualifies for Certification while the person who figured out that complex chain of title does not qualify (this issue has been addressed but some people are not happy about the outcome)?
I believe the quality of the product produced by the Land Profession is dependent upon the quality of work at all levels of input. I believe the perception of Land Professionals is dependent upon the professionalism of workers at all levels of input. I believe AAPL has the ability to help all Land Professionals, but there are self-imposed barriers that should be seriously debated. I believe the Land Profession, and by extension the AAPL, will be stronger with an attitude of inclusion, not exclusion.I hope AAPL Leadership does not ask me to keep my two cents to myself, because I won't, that is exactly why this forum was created.