Paul Benoist is a son of Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi, born at Ashiya AFB, Kyushu, Honshu, Japan, where his Natchez native father, an Air Force pilot in active duty service, was stationed. At least seven generations of Mr. Benoist's family have claimed Adams County, Mississippi as home, with residences and commercial buildings within the City limits of Natchez, an antebellum home now lost to time at Old Palestine Road, farmland and hunting grounds in Kingston and north of the Natchez City Cemetery, Mississippi River banks holdings, and residential, farmland and hunting grounds in Jefferson County, the Mississippi Delta, and along the Concordia-Tensas Parish, Louisiana corridor. His extended family dates back to mid-1700s Mississippi. Mr. Benoist is a product of the Natchez-Adams County public school system and a 1972 graduate of South Natchez-Adams High School. He started working on his grandmother's farm at age 10, harvesting pecans and clipping pastures. Later, Mr. Benoist worked on other area farms, operating typical farm machinery, and still later, in the oilfields of southwest Mississippi, Concordia and Catahoula Parishes, LA, as a roustabout. He helped work his way through college as an oilfield roustabout, laborer on commercial construction crews, umpired youth baseball games, and lobbied for colleges and universities at the Louisiana Legislature and was a Member of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, representing Louisiana State University student government. Although not engaged in public employment or politics himself, generations before him had careers in public service and state and local politics. He was active in the youth group of his church, played competitive sports, and learned to hunt and fish in the Miss-Lou area and has maintained his broad, regional contacts. The foregoing experiences combined to give Mr. Benoist an ability to relate to people from all walks of life, as well as respect for private property rights and stewardship of the environment.
Mr. Benoist is a 1976 graduate of Louisiana State University. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the A.B. Freeman School of Business of Tulane University in 1980. He earned his law degree from Tulane University Law School in 1990. He is admitted to practice in all Louisiana state and federal courts, and the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, the federal circuit encompassing the states of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Mr. Benoist has been admitted pro hac vice in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts of Mississippi and Texas on particular cases.
Mr. Benoist has extensive business experience in petroleum and surface land management matters. He worked in industry for a Fortune 500 major oil company as an employee, and has advised major and independent oil and gas companies, large and small landowners and pipeline companies as a private consultant. He has consulted with surface and mineral landowners on issues involving coordination and timing of competing, and oftentimes conflicting, multiple-use land management principles. Since 1980, he has worked on urban, suburban, and rural property issues involving wetlands, agricultural lands, forest lands, and offshore waters on tracts ranging in size from less than one acre to more than one million acres. Mr. Benoist has extensive experience in handling regional, national and international joint ventures, surface leases, crop and property damage assessment and repair, and oil and gas contracts of all types, including leases, royalty, drilling participation, and working interest agreements, as well as title examination. He has taught petroleum land management at the university level, and has appeared as a speaker at various land management groups from time to time. He also has experience in sales forecasting, market trends, market penetration strategies, inventory control and related business issues.
Today, Mr. Benoist is engaged in the full time practice of law. He is a member of the Louisiana State, Baton Rouge and 7th Judicial District Bar Associations, the Natchez Historical Society, and is a former member of American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). He has served as an officer and director for the Baton Rouge Association of Petroleum Landmen, chaired the AAPL Operating Agreement forms revision committee for the Lafayette landman association, and has lectured at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. He has served as a State Trustee, Regional and Zone Chairman for Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Director, Vidalia Chamber of Commerce, Trustee, Historic Natchez Foundation, and Clerk of Session of First Presbyterian Church Natchez. Mr. Benoist drafted planning documents and ordinances for one of the most successful and progressive Louisiana parishes which thereafter has become a thriving bedroom community for a major metropolitan area. Mr. Benoist has a working knowledge of residential and commercial property renovation and restoration, having renovated/restored multiple properties over the past 40 years. Since his early years in Japan, Mr. Benoist has traveled throughout the United States, northeast Canada, South American, and Europe. Mr. Benoist is fascinated by pyramidal structures around the globe, and is a voracious reader of science, history, math, and more. In earlier years, he enjoyed woodworking and was engaged with his grandfather in building and restoring recreational fishing boats.
Mr. Benoist's trial practice includes general commercial litigation; contract and lease disputes; construction disputes; occupational disease and toxic torts; products and premises liability; motor and truck accidents; oilfield accidents; oil and gas contract and lease disputes; title disputes; natural resource and property damages cases; employment matters; selected collection matters; foreclosures; successions, and workers compensation disputes. His transactional practice includes regulated and unregulated immovable property transactions, mineral title examination; conservation matters; preparation of contracts; drafting employment manuals and agreements, and general corporate work for closely-held, family-run entities, including formation, acquisitions, buy-sell transactions, and business succession planning, including wills and trusts.
Mr. Benoist's clients include individuals, financial institutions, integrated companies, independent oil companies, pipeline companies, non-profit organizations, and family owned businesses. Mr. Benoist strives to maintain relationship-based, traditional hands-on lawyering, utilizing technology as a means to lower legal costs to his clients.