Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Opportunities Beyond the Law School

The Graduate Program in Agricultural Law offers 24 credits of specialized courses in the law of food and agriculture. And, in addition to these special courses, LL.M. candidates have the opportunity to take up to six credits of graduate level courses that are related to their agricultural law studies but that are outside of our usual curriculum. This opens the doors of the full University of Arkansas campus to our students - with graduate courses in business, agricultural economics, rural sociology, and other relevant subjects. One of our candidates this past year, K.C. Tucker took advantage of this opportunity and took a new course in the MBA program through the new Center for Sustainability. I asked K.C. to describe her experience for us -

A View from the Other Side of Campus

After reading about the University of Arkansas’ Sustainability Initiative and the Applied Sustainability Center, I ventured beyond the walls of the law school to take a course at the Sam M. Walton College of Business on sustainability taught by Professor Terry K. Tremwel. Like sustainable agriculture, sustainable businesses "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." They are guided by the triple-play definition of sustainability - balancing environmental protection with economic growth and social development.

The sustainability course offered amazing opportunities to meet with some of the nation’s leading sustainable businesspeople. Each class was structured with a guest speaker for the first half of class, followed by a lecture and class discussion on a relevant sustainability topic.

For example, one snowy evening in January we were visited by Gary Whicker, Senior Vice President of Engineering Services for JB Hunt Transport Services, Inc. Mr. Whicker explained to the class that business and sustainability needed to be synonymous; “no one would go into a business expecting it to fail.” Mr. Whicker further discussed how the current environmental crisis is actually a business opportunity, and then he outlined steps that JB Hunt is taking to make sustainability part of their business strategy. The second half of the class dovetailed nicely with a discussion led by Professor Tremwel on population growth and how it relates to the exponential need for energy resources.

Throughout the semester, we were fortunate enough to learn about corporate sustainability plans from executives of Wal-Mart, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble and CHEP while also hearing guest professors discuss topics such as: ecological economics (Dr. Robert Costanza); purchasing power parity (Dr. Andrew Horowitz); how sustainability relates to firm performance (Dr. Jon Johnson); competitive and prosocial behavior (Dr. David Schroeder); how markets work (Dr. David Gay), global standards for environmental audits (Dr. Gary Peters) and metrics for addressing externalities (Dr. Jennie Popp).

The course work was engaging as well as manageable. Professor Tremwel welcomed me and was always available for any help I needed beyond the classroom. The milestone academic projects of the course were a Personal Sustainability Plan (PSP) and a research project. The PSP gave us an opportunity to reflect upon the sustainability of the choices we make in our everyday lives and challenged us to think differently about some of these choices. My PSP included some lifestyle changes such as walking to the grocery store instead of driving and starting my own vegetable and herb garden. The research project was an excellent exercise in framing research, evaluating academic and scientific sources, and honing writing skills. Overall, the class was a great success and I highly recommend it to future LL.M.’ers!

K.C. is an associate attorney at the Bassett Law Firm LLP with a practice focused on food and agriculture. Pictured right, is her dog Olive, suited up for a walk to the grocery store!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Graduation Photos

Some photos of our happy graduates! Congratulations to the LL.M. class of 2008!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

LL.M. Class of 2008 - Graduation Ceremony

The University of Arkansas School of Law held its commencement ceremony on May 17, 2008, and as a featured part of our ceremony, we congratulated this year's LL.M. class. While most are still completing work on their thesis, eight of our candidates had finished all of their regular course work and were thus entitled to "walk" with their class for commencement.

Here are excerpts from our ceremony, with pictures to be posted soon -

  • Since 1980, the University of Arkansas School of Law has had the only LL.M. program in the United States that offers an advanced legal degree in agricultural law. Our LL.M. candidates study the wide array of legal and policy issues that relate to the food we eat, the natural fibers we wear, and most recently, the biofuels that run our vehicles. They learn the law of food and agriculture from the perspective of the farmer, the retailer, and the consumer.
  • Because of our unique program, we attract candidates from throughout the United States and from many other countries. We now have alumni from 35 different states and 18 foreign countries.

We are proud of our candidate’s hard work and dedication this year. Congratulations to the class of 2008!

Jeanie Stephens Callicott received her B.S. degree in Political Science and Journalism from Southern Arkansas University and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas. Jeanie has accepted a position in the regulatory division at Wal-Mart, where she will be the Admissibility Compliance Manager for Imports.

Irina Feofanova is an attorney from Russia, having earned her Specialist in Law degree with honors from the Novgorod State University. Irina has been researching international child labor issues in the context of human rights for her LL.M. thesis and will be continuing this work through the next year.

Eric Howard Foy received his B.S. degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University and his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Eric is licensed to practice law in the state of Oklahoma. He will soon be leaving for an internship in Washington D.C. with the National Pork Producers Council, working on legislation affecting the industry.

Cara McCarthy received her B.S. in Social Science/Environmental Studies from Michigan State University and her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School. Cara recently began her work in Washington, D.C. as a legal specialist with the Packers & Stockyards Division of GIPSA, an agency within the USDA.

Shannon Mirus received her B.S. degree in Agricultural Business, magna cum laude, University of Arkansas and her J.D. degree cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law. Shannon is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas and has accepted a position as staff attorney at the National Center for Agricultural Law.

Rusty Wade Rumley received his B.S. degree in Agribusiness, magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University and his J.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in the state of Oklahoma. Rusty is continuing work in the area of farmland valuation and special use tax valuation and will be returning to Oklahoma to private practice.

Elizabeth R. Springsteen received her B.A. degree in Political Science/Pre Law from Michigan State University, and her, cum laude, from the University of Toledo College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in both Ohio and Michigan. Elizabeth recently agreed to work for one year as a staff attorney at the National Center for Agricultural Law, after which she plans to return to Michigan where her family operates an eight generation centennial farm.

Amanda Michelle Thomas received her B.A. degree in Economics with honors from the University of Central Arkansas and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in Arkansas. This summer she is continuing her research involving the challenges faced by retail food outlets in securing and marketing local and organic foods.

K.C. Dupps Tucker received her B.A. degree in Drama/Political Science from Colorado College and her J.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law. K.C. is licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas and is an associate with the Bassett Law firm here in Fayetteville. The firm allowed her to take this academic year off to complete her LL.M. degree, and I am pleased to report that she not only completed all of her course work successfully, she finished her thesis last week. She reports back to work on Monday and will resume her work on the Oklahoma state litigation against Arkansas poultry companies. She will also be practicing in the area of food law and regulation.

Congratulations, LL.M. Class of 2008!