Wednesday, April 29, 2009

U.S. News Ranks University of Arkansas School of Law in Top Tier

U.S. News and World Report’s 2010 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools ranked the University of Arkansas School of Law in the top tier of U.S. law schools. The School of Law tied for 94th place among all public and private law schools.

“We are thrilled to be included among the top tier of law schools,” said Cynthia Nance, dean of the School of Law. “This ranking is a testament to the outstanding work being done by our faculty and students and the remarkable achievements of our alumni. The School of Law has enjoyed a historic year, from the dedication of our building expansion with Associate Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to the recent visit of President George H.W. Bush. It’s heartening to know that colleagues nationwide are taking note of our great strides.”

The building expansion completed during the past year added approximately 64,000 square feet of classroom, library, office, lounge, and other space to create a quadrangle that encloses a beautiful courtyard. The new space provides for a professional learning environment incorporating state-of-the-art technology.

“I am very pleased that the School of Law is being recognized, rightfully, as one of the best in the nation,” said Chancellor G. David Gearhart. “As an alumnus of the law school, I am doubly pleased. The law school’s success reflects positively on the entire University of Arkansas, and I thank Dean Nance, the faculty, staff, students and alumni for their good work.”

Comment from the LL.M. Program - U.S. News does not rank LL.M. Programs, but we remain very proud of our status as the only LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law - I guess that makes us number 1!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Podcast - What is Ag Law?

I just realized that the American Association of Law Schools Agricultural Law section presentation is available on podcast. I had the opportunity to speak about our definition of agricultural law and what we do in the LL.M. Program. If you are interested - please listen!

Friday, April 10, 2009

LL.M. Alumnus Doug O'Brien Appointed to USDA Position

We are very proud to report that today, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced the appointment of LL.M. alumnus Doug O'Brien as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

In the press release, Secretary Vilsack stated
We are very fortunate to have Doug O'Brien join USDA. He has dedicated a distinguished career to agricultural issues. The department-and the people we serve-will benefit from his breadth of experience. Beyond his knowledge of current challenges to agriculture, Doug's administrative background will serve USDA well as we work to achieve the President's goals for food, agriculture and rural America.
The USDA announcement described the duties of the Office of Deputy Secretary as follows –
The Office of the Deputy Secretary oversees the USDA budget, which is $120 billion for fiscal year 2009. The Office manages the day-to-day operations of a department with vast responsibilities that include domestic farm programs, agricultural trade, nutrition assistance, food safety, agricultural marketing, conservation programs, energy, rural development, science and research, and National Forest lands.
Doug received his LL.M. in Agricultural Law with us in 1998 and has maintained a close connection with the University of Arkansas School of Law since that time. He served as senior staff attorney in a joint appointment with the Drake Agricultural Law Center and our National Agricultural Law Center and later served as co-director of the National Ag Law Center. Doug has taught both the Federal Farm Programs and the Regulation of Livestock Sales courses in the LL.M. Program.

Doug has a distinguished career in agricultural law in addition to his work in Arkansas. He most recently served as Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, where he helped run day-to-day operations. His responsibilities included development of the department's biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy efforts. Prior to that time, he served as senior advisor to Governor Chet Culver of Iowa on renewable energy issues.

During the 2002 Farm Bill deliberations, Doug served as counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, with work focusing on livestock marketing, concentration, agricultural credit, and cooperatives.

From 1998-2000, Doug was a legal specialist on livestock marketing issues, working for GIPSA. He has also served as associate counsel with the Organization for Competitive Markets; and he clerked with Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Doug was raised on a diversified family farm in Iowa. He holds a bachelor's degree from Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa, a law degree from the University of Iowa and an LL.M. degree in agricultural law from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Congratulations, Doug - we know you will do a great job!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Town Hall Meeting with T. Boone Pickens

Students participating in the Rural Land, Rural Livelihoods course have been asked to attend the “town hall” meeting on Monday, April 6 with T. Boone Pickens on the national energy crisis and energy independence. Denise Bode, president of the American Wind Energy Association and a partner in Pickens’ energy campaign, will be in attendance. The meeting will be in the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Enterprise Development Auditorium of the University of Arkansas, from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. Monday, April 6.

Class will begin with a discussion of the town meeting. A rebroadcast of the event will also be available on the Web at:

No login required.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods Course including Wind Energy

Next week, we will be offering a new class in the LL.M. Program - Rural Lands, Rural Livelihoods. This class will present some of the newest issues on the horizon in agricultural law, and we are very pleased to add it to our LL.M. curriculum.

Professor Neil Hamilton, a well recognized leader in the study of agricultural law and its part in our food system and a regular visiting professor in the LL.M. Program, will be teaching the course. Professor Hamilton is the Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law at the Drake University School of Law in Des Moines, Iowa and also serves as the Director of the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

Professor Hamilton is one of only a very few law professors nationwide that have developed a wind energy law school course, and we are delighted to have him offer an overview of this emerging topic as part of the new course.

After the discussion of wind energy, the course will focus on other important aspects of rural development. Given Professor Hamilton's close connection with USDA Secretary Vilsack, we anticipate that a discussion of the new administration and its agricultural, food law, and rural development initiatives will be woven into the course discussion. Professor Hamilton co-taught a similar class with then Governor Vilsack at Drake Law School last summer.