Michael Christian has deep experience in natural resources law, administrative law and litigation.  For over 25 years he has represented interests in oil and gas, mining, real estate and ranching.  He represents active operators in oil and gas exploration in Idaho for all local legal needs, and as a result has been a central participant in the creation of a new oil and gas industry in Idaho over the last several years.  He has litigated disputes across a wide variety of subjects.  He provides services including:

  • Contract preparation and review including leases, real estate purchase and sale agreements, easement agreements, surface use agreements, asset and stock purchase agreements, business mutual aid agreements, and vendor contracts
  • Litigation of contract, real estate and other disputes
  • Advising business clients regarding human resources issues including employment agreements, employee policy manuals, terminations, severance agreements, discrimination and harassment claims, and non-compete, confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements
  • Representing clients in proceedings before the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, including applications for spacing orders and integration orders
  • Assisting clients with regulatory compliance issues involving the Idaho Department of Lands and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
  • Representing clients before county planning and zoning commissions and boards of county commissioners regarding applications for local entitlements
  • Mineral title opinions, including drilling and division order title opinions for oil and gas clients
  • Governmental relations including drafting legislation and representing clients in the legislature as a registered lobbyist, and representing of clients in the negotiation and drafting of county ordinances
  • Representing clients in administrative hearings before the Department of Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, including mining claim contest actions and public lands grazing permit renewal appeals, and appeals to the Interior Board of Land Appeals

Michael has litigated a broad range of business and real estate issues, including both enforcing and defending against claims under employee noncompete, confidentiality and nonsolicitation agreements, intellectual property disputes, boundary and easement disputes, and a variety of contract disputes.  He has conducted bench and jury trials in Ada, Bonneville, Cassia, Canyon and Kootenai counties, and the United States District Court and Bankruptcy Court for the District of Idaho.  He has successfully argued appeals to the Idaho Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  His significant results include:

  • Defeated employer claim attempting to enforce employee noncompete agreement, obtaining summary judgment and payment of client’s attorney fees by employer.
  • Defeated CERCLA cost recovery claim for historic mine tailing contamination on summary judgment.
  • Defeated claims alleging breach of geothermal lease on summary judgment, and obtained judgment for attorney’s fees against plaintiff lessor.
  • Trial counsel in month-long trial of construction dispute, resulting in recovery of more than $300,000 for client and defeating opposing party’s $1,700,000 counterclaim.
  • Obtained summary judgment against United States in mining claim patent dispute, and award of attorney’s fees in favor of client under Equal Access to Justice Act.
  • Settled multi-million dollar intellectual property claim against manufacturing client for less than 5% of claim after deposition of opposing party.
  • Obtained voluntary dismissal of property damage negligence claim after successful exclusion of plaintiff’s expert witness.
  • Settled multiple partnership dissolution disputes on favorable terms.


Michael received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University in 1987, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Washington in 1990.  In law school, he won two moot court competitions and was selected to the school’s chapter of the Order of Barristers.


“A Summary of Revisions to Idaho’s Oil and Gas Conservation Act and Rules: Responding as Production in Idaho Nears Reality,” Idaho Law Review Vol. 49, No. 2 (2013).