Faculty Highlight: Tara Righetti

Professor Tara Righetti is serving as an invited speaker at the annual Arkansas Law Review Symposium this Friday, October 27, 2017.Righetti-pic-2

Hosted in conjunction with the University of Arkansas School of Law and the Arkansas Law Review, the Symposium is designed to explore an area of the law from many perspectives. Guest scholars from institutions around the nation are invited to participate in panel discussions and contribute to the symposium issue of the Arkansas Law Review. This year’s Symposium is entitled Environmental Sustainability and Private Governance.

An Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming, Righetti teaches courses related to oil and gas, energy and commercial law for the College of Law. She teaches additional courses for the College of Business as well as the School of Energy Resources where she serves as the Director of the Professional Land Management Program. Her research interests include split estates, royalty payments, subsurface trespass and energy development on public land. Prior to joining the University of Wyoming, Righetti served in counsel and executive management positions in the oil and gas industry where she represented clients in oil and gas, corporate, securities, commercial, mergers and acquisitions and environmental matters.

With her experience and expertise in the energy industry, Professor Righetti will be serving on a panel exploring energy and climate change at the Symposium. Additionally, she will be contributing an article to the Symposium Edition of the Arkansas Law Review about surface use agreements as a vehicle for private environmental governance (publication forthcoming).

The panel, as well as the rest of the Symposium is available to watch via live stream or after the conclusion of the event on the Arkansas Law Review Symposium webpage.

Faculty Highlight: Danielle Cover

The University of Wyoming College of Law is pleased to announce that Professor Danielle Cover is the recipient of a University of Wyoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award.  The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards recognize and reward the efforts of faculty, staff, students, and community members to create and support an environment where diversity, equity, and inclusion are valued both on campus and in the community.DSC_7892

Professor Cover is the Faculty Director of the Civil Legal Services Clinic (CLSC) at the College of Law. Under her supervision, student enrolled in the CLSC represent low-income and marginalized individuals across the state who could not otherwise afford legal representation. With a dedication to public services, Professor Cover applies a social-justice based instructional design in the Clinic, as well as in the other courses she teaches at the College of Law and across campus.

In addition to putting in countless hours to provide legal representation to an under-served population throughout the state of Wyoming, Professor Cover simultaneously trains law students in authentic legal practices, and helps them to become thoughtful, responsible, and reflective lawyers.

As well as teaching a full, faculty course load, Professor Cover has participated in the Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning’s (ECTL) Institute on Active and Engaged Learning, volunteers her time on campus to serve on the Shepard Symposium Planning Committee, and has presented in several conferences about pro bono services and the importance of problem-based learning and social justice.

Professor Cover was enthusiastically nominated for this award by her colleagues on campus in recognition of her service and dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“It’s humbling both to have been nominated for the award and to receive it,” says Cover. “The work of my fellow clinicians in the College of Law and my University colleagues informs so many of my choices – the best work any of us can do builds from the foundation of our collective commitment to building community. To be formally recognized for my teaching choices and the impact they can have in a classroom is an honor.”

The University of Wyoming Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards are sponsored by the Committee on Women and People of Color, the Good Mule Project, the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, the Social Justice Research Center, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Dialogue.

Professor Cover will be recognized at the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards dinner on October 17, 2017.

Clinic Program Update

family and Immgrant justice clinicThere have been some recent changes in the clinical programs at the College of Law this semester. A new clinic, the Family and Immigrant Justice Clinic (FIJC) has been created as a hybrid clinic, replacing the existing Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic and the merging it with family and domestic violence based immigration cases that were previously housed in the International Human Rights Clinic. The main focus of the FIJC, is to work with organizations and individuals on projects and cases that aim to advance justice for victims of gender-based violence both at home and abroad.

Students in the Clinic will continue to represent low-income victims of gender-based violence in traditional areas of family law, including: divorce, custody, termination of parental rights, and court appointed guardian ad litem cases. Additionally, they will represent low-income victims of gender-based violence and family violence in the immigration area, including immigrant petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, U visas for victims of crime and T visas for victims of human trafficking, domestic violence-based asylum claims, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petitions for children fleeing family violence in their country of origin.

The FIJC is part of the College of Law’s family law, immigration law, and international law curriculum. Through taking on direct representation and advocacy work in addition to participation in a critical skills-based seminar, students in the Clinic continue to gain practical experience, advanced client-counseling techniques, and integrate public service in their practice skills. Students are also able to effectively examine and engage in local, national, and global efforts to combat gender-based violence and discrimination.

The merger of the clinical components seemed a natural fit since so many of the cases in the former clinics had overlapping features and similarities in their caseloads. Through participation the FIJC, students will come out with a globally-informed skill-set allowing them to effectively represent more clients in their general practice once they embark on their careers.

The FIJC is supervised by Professor Suzie Pritchett.  Pritchett joined the law faculty in 2012 and has become a passionate advocate for immigrant justice throughout the state of Wyoming. In addition to representing hundreds of non-citizens with law students through the Clinical Programs, Professor Pritchett is also a strong advocate for victims of gender-based violence. She is on the Board of Directors for the Albany County SAFE Project and a regular contributor to the Wyoming Humanities Council. Most recently she was honored for her pro bono services as the “Champion of Justice” by the Wyoming State Bar Association.

The International Human Rights Clinic, which is operating as a practicum during the 2017-18 academic year, remains a part of the Center for International Human Rights Law & Advocacy. Students opting to participate, will continue to work on international and domestic cases under the Direction of Professor Noah Novogrodsky, the Director of the Center for International Human Rights Law & Advocacy.

Faculty Highlight: Step Feldman

Professor Stephen M. Feldman, the Jerry W. Housel / Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Professor of Law and Constitutional Law expert at the University of Wyoming College of Law, recently published a new book, The New Roberts Court, Donald Trump, and our Failing Constitution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).step feldman book

The book traces the evolution of the constitutional order, explaining Donald Trump’s election as a symptom of a degraded democratic-capitalist system. Beginning with the framers’ vision of a balanced system—balanced between the public and private spheres, between government power and individual rights—the constitutional order evolved over two centuries until it reached its present stage, Democracy, Inc., in which corporations and billionaires wield herculean political power. The book further explores what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and Judge Neil Gorsuch’s appointment means for the future of democracy in America.

Professor Feldman has been at the College of Law since 2002. He teaches Constitutional Law and Jurisprudence at the law school. Additionally, he serves as an adjunct professor for the Political Science Department.

speaker-feldmanBefore joining the University of Wyoming College of Law, Professor Feldman was a Professor of Law and Associate Member of Political Science at the University of Tulsa. In 1998, he was a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellow and in the fall of 1999, he was a Professor in Residence in London, England. He has also served as a Judicial Clerk for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Office of Staff Attorneys. In the fall of 2016, he served as a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School.

Professor Feldman has authored numerous publications, including several scholarly books on Constitutional Law and has written various articles and essay contributions on law, politics, and jurisprudence.

University of Wyoming Salt Creek Energy Scholar Lands Job with Holland & Hart

Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholar Megan Romano recently accepted an offer to join full-service, national law firm Holland & Hart as an associate in the firm’s Cheyenne office in the Fall of 2018. Romano recently concluded a summer clerk position in Holland & Hart’s Environment, Energy & Natural Resources practice, one of the largest environmental and natural resources teams in the country, as part of the firm’s Summer Associate Program.

Salt Creek (Megan Romano) (2)
 Pictured Left to Right: Dean Klint Alexander (Salt Creek donor), Poe Leggette (co-founder of Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship), Megan Romano (law student, inaugural Salt Creek Scholar), Joe Evers (co-founder of Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship), Matt Hartford (Salt Creek donor), Alex Obrecht (co-founder of Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship)

Romano is the first Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship recipient at the University of Wyoming College of Law. The scholarship was created to financially award law students as they move forward in their academic endeavors towards a career in the field of energy and natural resources law, as well as to connect students to the scholarship’s industry network of friends and donors to facilitate employment opportunities. Recipients are selected by the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship Committee comprised of the director(s) of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies (CLERR), the Oil & Gas Professor, and no less than three of the donors to the fund as selected at random by the director(s) of CLERR and as approved by the Dean of the College of Law.

“We’re really proud to hear our first Salt Creek Scholar winner was offered employment at the nationally recognized firm Holland & Hart. She has proven herself to be an intelligent, hard-working scholar who is making a positive contribution in her community,” said Joe Evers, Corporate Counsel and Manager of External Relations at Westmoreland Coal Company.

Prior to law school, Romano developed a successful career as a landman for both upstream and midstream companies in Colorado and Wyoming. Romano was motivated to attend law school after working daily on contracts, negotiations, and with her companies’ outside legal counsel. She applied for the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship: “because energy has been my work for nearly 10 years and I believe in the industry and the need for competent problem solvers. The energy industry is one our nation depends on, and with the challenges we face, we need manpower and people committed to working through those issues.”

About Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship

Established in 2015 by University of Wyoming alums and benefactors practicing in the areas of oil and gas and energy law, the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students demonstrating academic achievement and a commitment to the study and practice of energy law. Salt Creek Scholars will be acknowledged at the scholarship dinner at the end of March or the beginning of April, honored at the annual Landscape Discussion on Energy Law and Policy, and promoted to potential employers throughout the Salt Creek Scholars donor network.salt creek logo

Faculty Highlight: Melissa Alexander

Associate Professor Melissa Ballengee Alexander recently spoke at the 40th Annual DSC_2240Health Law Professors Conference which took place June 8-10 in Atlanta, Georgia. Alexander presented her current work entitled, Autonomy and Accountability: Why Informed Consent, Consumer Protection, and Defunding May Beat Conversion Therapy Bans.  Professor Alexander’s article on the same subject will be published later this summer in volume 55 of the University of Louisville Law Review.

The annual Health Law Professors Conference is hosted by the American Society of Law Medicine & Ethics (ASLME) and is intended to serve as a forum for professionals who teach law and bioethics in higher education institutions to share strategies and ideas, as well as provide participants with updates on issues at the forefront of the law and medicine.

Professor Alexander join the law faculty at the University of Wyoming in 2015. Her areas of interest include bioethics and global health and human rights. In addition to those courses, she also teaches Intellectual Property, Civil Procedure II and Pre-Trial Litigation.

Four Law Students Accepted into the Military JAG Corps Program

The College of Law has an unprecedented amount of students from the class of 2017 accepted into the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps Program following graduation. Four students Christina White, Kevin Farrelly, Hannah Toland, and Kacy Dixon will embark on a legal military career in a field that is extremely competitive to enter.

Judge Advocates are commissioned officers in the U.S. armed forces that serve as legal advisors within the branch. The scope of practice area is extensive, and Judge Advocates will likely practice a wide breadth of the law before progressing towards a specialization.

Depending on the service branch, the acceptance rate for JAG Corps applicants is typically between 4-7%. The Army, for instance, receives about 4000 applications every year and only accepts around 200.

White, Farrelly, and Toland will all be joining ranks in the U.S. Army JAG, while Dixon will be continuing a career with the U.S. Air Force.

Captain Scott Reitor of the U.S. Army JAG Corps, who performs the entrance interviews for hopeful candidates in the Mountain West region, describes what qualities an ideal candidate possesses.

“The Army JAG Corps prides itself on the ‘whole-person’ concept for applicants,” he explains. “Physical fitness and academics certainly figure prominently in the process, but we are also looking for demeanor and professional appearance. In particular, the real thing that sets people apart is the sincerity of wanting to join.”

Consistent with the ‘whole-person’ notion, the interview process is a crucial step for applicants to demonstrate their ability to work well under pressure.

“A good attorney can work at any law firm,” says Capt. Reitor. “What we are looking for is someone that we can work with on a professional level, but also someone that can cope day in and day out in a less than hospitable situation.”

Captain John Malek of the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps echoes that sentiment. “The interview is the part of the process that really impacts an applicant the most,” he says. “Things like prior military experience are helpful, but we are really looking for people that have the ability to interface well with the establishment.”

Coincidentally, White, Farrelly, and Toland all served as a Student Director for one of the College of Law’s seven legal clinics or practicums. These positions not only require a high level of professionalism, but also the ability to manage an intense workload.

“I tell people to study the area of the law that interests you because one, you will tend to excel at what you enjoy, and two, it will show that you have passion and interest and you indulge that,” says Capt. Reitor. “The take away from these three students is that their involvement in the Clinics highlighted that they had an interest in the law, and that they pursued it. It shows commitment and motivation.”

Though White, Farrelly, Toland and Dixon all share a common interest and have passionately worked towards that goal, they are each unique individuals with their own strengths and qualifications.

Christina-carouselChristina White serves as the Student Director for the Estate Planning Practicum. She is originally from Charleston, West Virginia where she studied Criminal Justice and Criminology at Marshall University. There she earned both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.

With three older brothers in the military, White has flirted with the idea of joining the service all her life. It wasn’t until she started law school that she felt her passion for the law and the allure of the military were reconciled with the possibility of becoming a JAG Corps Officer. With an older brother that served as an airborne Ranger, White felt a particular connection to the army.

Confident in her decision, she began the arduous application process. “It took three months to fill out the application, it is so detailed,” she explains. “You have to include all of your academic records, your employment history, meet with a filtering officer who then submits a report on you… It is similar to the character and fitness process for the Bar exam, but even more extreme.”

It was a long process, but it was worth it for White. She feels particularly self-assured with her ability to succeed as a JAG Officer because of her clinical experience. “When you are in the JAG, you are of course a solider first,” she says. “But I feel really prepared to tackle the legal side of the job because I feel like I got really good exposure and practical skills through the Clinic.”

White is in it for the long haul. A term is four years and she is planning to stay in at least twenty. “It is a relief to know that I am finally in and that I have a future,” she says. “I am anticipating it to be a long future. It’s exciting to know that my life long goal was to go into the service and it is about the begin.”

Kevin Farrelly also hails from a military background. With a father in the service for kevin-carouselthirty-plus years, it seemed like a natural fit. Kevin is a native of Portland, Oregon. He attended BYU-Idaho for his undergraduate degree and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Sociology.  Prior to entering law school, Farrelly served as a police officer in Portland for four years.

It was his experience on the force that inspired him to go to law school. “Working for the police department, I enjoyed seeing how the law was able to impact and help people,” he says. “As a police officer I felt I could help one or two people in the community, but as an attorney, I’d be able to help countless more on a wider scale.”

During his tenure at the College of Law, Farrelly has served as the Student Director for the Prosecution Assistance Clinic. Through the Clinic, he has been involved in numerous cases on behalf of the State of Wyoming, and has even argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

In addition to the Clinic, Farrelly also served as a Judicial Extern for the Honorable E. James Burke, of the Wyoming Supreme Court. He believes that gaining first-hand experience and working directly with the legal community in the state has been incredibly rewarding and wants to continue on that path.

“Becoming an attorney was all about helping people,” he says. “I’ve served my community; I’ve served my state. What better way is there to help people than serving my country?”

Hannah-carouselHannah Toland serves as the Student Director for the Defender Aid Program. Raised in Powell, she attended the University of Wyoming for her undergraduate degree, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.

Toland was drawn to the idea of the JAG program by the promise of seeing the world, and creating a good platform for starting a career in law.

“Joining the JAG is going to be a really good way to find out what I’m good at,” she says. “The beauty of the program is that it allows you to try a lot of different practice areas and go to a lot of different places. It really plays to your strengths, so it will be interesting to see where I end up.”

Toland hopes to be deployed right away so she can travel and feels confident that she will succeed in the program.

“My experience in the Clinic has been the best preparation I could have asked for,” she remarks. “Working in the Defender Aid Clinic specifically has made me extremely comfortable with criminal law and familiar with federal rules which are applicable everywhere. I feel like it has certainly given me the edge.”

Toland is also no stranger to the courtroom. Doing mostly appellate work in the Clinic, she has spent time regularly before a Judge and has also argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

“The skills I gained in law school have really prepared me for this,” she explains. “Normally I would find the JAG really intimidating, but I now feel well-prepared, confident, and excited to embark on this exciting career.”

Kacy Dixon will be joining the JAG Corps, but in a different branch of the military. With Kacy Dixonprior service in the U.S. Air Force as an Intelligence Officer, Dixon will be returning to their ranks as a JAG Officer.

“I found active duty military service to be extremely rewarding,” she says. “The opportunity to combine service with the practice of law is so appealing to me because it combines the best of both worlds.”

Dixon grew up in Cheyenne. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wyoming in Criminal Justice. She also participated in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and graduated as the Distinguished Graduate in 2009.

With an interest in law and government, Dixon decided that law school would be a good fit after four years of active duty. She returned to Wyoming to pursue her law degree.

Dixon has gained practical legal experience during law school by participating in the externship program. She competed two different externships, both in the Department of Defense.

“The externship program was a really great way to see the world of law in terms of application,” she says. “It really allowed me to apply the theoretical knowledge I had received in class and get a feel for the law in practice.”

During her externship, Dixon was also able to shadow a JAG Officer. The experience of observing trial preparation and sitting in on a pre-trial hearing really solidified her decision to apply.

“That single day of exposure really helped to change my mind about trial work and broadened my ideas about what I’d really like to do,” she says.

With a clear picture of her goals going forward, Dixon is ready to take the next step.

“I’m very honored to have been accepted in the program and I’m really looking forward to what the future has in store for me.”

The College of Law is extremely proud of these four students and wishes them the best of luck in the future!