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Matthew S. Brahana

Attorney / Partner
Salt Lake City
Licensure: MO, UT, WY


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With over 15 years as a practicing attorney, Matt Brahana has a long and impressive record of successfully representing his clients in a variety of legal issues.  Whether it is in court, on appeal, before a regulatory body, at the negotiation table, or conducting due diligence, with Matt you get an attorney, counselor, and advocate who is committed to effectively and efficiently representing his clients.  

Currently, Matt’s primary practice includes the following:

ERISA and non-ERISA Litigation: Mr. Brahana represents self-funded and fully insured employee benefits plans, insurers, and third-party claims administrators in defending claims asserted by plan participants, plan members, and providers under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).  Much of his ERISA work involves claims for behavioral health benefits and alleged violations of the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (“MHPAEA”). Non-ERISA work includes breach of contract and bad faith claims against health insurers and third-party claims administrators.

School Law: Mr. Brahana represents public school districts and charter schools in matters before state departments of education and in federal court involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”).  He also counsels clients on substantive and procedural compliance with disability-rights laws in education.

Natural Resources: Mr. Brahana represents large and small oil and gas exploration and production companies and mining companies in all manner of legal issues. Details of Matt’s experience includes:

  • Extensive experience preparing mineral title opinions, including drilling and division order title opinions, lender/financing title opinions, and title status reports. 
  • Litigation concerning quiet title to minerals (including related estate litigation), royalty disputes, surface use issues, and cutting edge issues related to pore space and carbon sequestration.
  • Regularly represents clients in all aspects of transactions, including due diligence, negotiation, preparation of documents, including purchase and sales agreements, joint operating agreements, royalty agreements, and related deeds, assignments, and associated transfer documents.
  • Represents clients before the Bureau of Land Management, state regulatory agencies (e.g., Utah Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining or the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration), the Interior Board of Land Appeals, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission.
  • Serving as outside general counsel

Civil Litigation and Appeals: Mr. Brahana represents clients in civil matters and appeals before state and federal courts in Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, and in federal courts in Colorado.  Matters range from trademark, cybersquatting, and unfair competition; quiet title, easement disputes, and land use and zoning; breach of contract; and business and personal torts.

Matt is currently a partner at Fabian VanCott.  He was part of the contingent of attorneys from Van Cott, Bagley, Cornwall & McCarthy who merged with Fabian and Clendenin.  He also spent time working for an oil and gas boutique law firm out of Texas and a regional law firm in Montana.

Matt is licensed in state and federal courts in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming, and in federal courts in Colorado.  He is also admitted to practice before the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit and Tenth Circuit.  

He earned his law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, with honors.  He earned his Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

While Matt thoroughly loves the practice of law, when he is not working, he is typically spending time with his wife, two sons, and their dog out in nature.  He also enjoys golfing, mountain biking, snowboarding, and volleyball.

Professional History

Fabian VanCott: Shareholder, 2016-present; Associate, 2015; Chairperson, Energy & Utilities Practice Group, 2017-2021

Oil and Gas Chair of the Energy, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law Section of the Utah State Bar, 2019-Present

Utah Association of Professional Landmen, Board of Directors, 2017-2019]

Admitted to the following:

  • 2007 – State Bar of Montana, U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Wyoming State Bar, U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.
  • 2009 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • 2010 – Utah State Bar, U.S. District Court for the District of Utah
  • 2021 – U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • 2022 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

“Legal Elite” in the field of natural resources, Utah Business Magazine, 2022


The University of Montana School of Law, J.D. with honors, Dec. 2006

The University of Missouri School of Journalism, B.J. (photojournalism), 1999

Community Service

Canyons School District, Willow Springs Elementary School, School Community Council, 2017-2021

ZooMontana, Board of Directors, 2010-2012

Publications & Presentations

2022 – Student Discipline and Behavior under IDEA and Section 504, Utah Special Education Administrator’s Meeting

2021 – Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs), and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs): Ensuring Best Practices and Discipline and Expulsion Essentials under IDEA and Section 504, IEP and 504 Plan Legal Workshop, National Business Institute

2021 – ENREL Oil and Gas Annual Update

2020 – ENREL Oil and Gas Annual Update

2019 – ENREL Oil and Gas Annual Update

2016 – Water Use in the Oil and Gas Industry and Ethics and Water Law (co-author/co-presenter), Water Rights in Utah, National Business Institute

2011 — Product Liability – Case Law Update 2011 (contributing author), Defense Research Institute

2010 – Surface Access and Damages (co-presenter), State Bar of Montana 2010 Energy Law CLE