Monday, December 6, 2010

An Inside Look at the FDA and the Regulation of Food

Last Thursday, for the last class session of our Food Law & Policy class, we were delighted to welcome attorney Jason Saspin.  Jason is Of Counsel with the Polsinelli Shughart law firm, officed in Denver Colorado.  He serves as a member of the firm's Life Sciences group, leading its FDA practice.

Formerly Associate Chief Counsel in the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Chief Counsel, Washington, D.C., Jason advised the FDA in enforcement actions, negotiated with the affected industry, provided technical assistance on pending legislation, assisted in litigation and audits, and served as counsel to the Deputy Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Regulatory Affairs (the enforcement arm of the FDA).

While at the FDA, Jason participated in several significant regulatory actions including the agency's promulgation of rules and guidance regarding fresh produce and nutritional labeling and the expansion of cooperation between federal and state regulatory authorities in enforcement and regulatory actions. 

Before joining the FDA, Jason served as a Maryland Assistant Attorney General, representing and advising the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Health Care Commission and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

Jason is a co-author of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act and author of publications on public health law and preparedness, international trade and health, litigation and public health, vaccine policy, and SARS.  A former Assistant Scientist in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, he served as faculty in Johns Hopkins' Center for Public Health Preparedness and Centers for Environmental Health Tracking and Practice and in the Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities' Center for Law and the Public’s Health.  He is a graduate of Williams College, the University of Michigan Law School and Johns Hopkins University.

He delivered a fascinating presentation on the "personality" of the FDA as a federal agency.

We were also delighted to welcome two distinguished guests to the class from Wal-Mart, Don Wiseman, Associate General Counsel, and Mike Sostrin Sr. Manager-Food Safety Recalls.  We enjoyed their participation in the class and hope to have them back with us again next semester to provide the retail perspective to the important food law issues that we discuss.  Pictured left are Mike and Don talking to LL.M. candidate, Kerri Boling after the class.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Food Imports and Customs Class

On December 1, LL.M. candidate, David Jackson, prepared and delivered a special presentation to the Food Law & Policy class,  An Overview of the Law Regarding Imported Foods.  It was an excellent presentation and was well received by the class.

David is an experienced international trade attorney, admitted to practice law in Missouri and before the Court of International Trade.  He also passed the Customs Broker examination, license application pending.  Before coming to the LL.M. Program, he practiced with the law firm of Miller and Company in Kansas City, Missouri.  David received his B.A. from George Mason University and his J.D. from the University of Kansas. During law school, David received the CALI Award for Excellence in Advanced International Trade and interned as an International Trade Assistant at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.  He co-authored a book chapter, Toward Equal Human Dignity in Free Trade Agreements, with international law scholar, Professor Raj Bhala, Rice Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas School of Law.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ron McCormick Speaks on Wal-Mart Heritage & Sustainability Programs

We were pleased to host Ron McCormick, Senior Director for Local & Sustainable Produce Sourcing at Wal-Mart for a presentation in our Food, Farming & Sustainability course this morning. 

Mr. McCormick is one of the architects of Wal-Mart's Heritage Agriculture program, a program that seeks to reintroduce specialty crop agriculture to areas where it once was located, but has since been displaced.  Heritage Agriculture is key to Wal-Mart's goal of connecting directly with farmers and to sell more locally sources fruits and vegetables.  Mr. McCormick delivered an interesting and informative presentation about Wal-Mart's local sourcing initiatives, their link to sustainability, and the key partnerships envisioned between retailers and producers.  He stressed his belief that there was a window of opportunity for a new agriculture to be created and built into our food system, and that the actions we take now will be critical to having a sustainable food system in the future.  The LL.M. candidates asked many questions and continued to engage in discussion with him long after class ended.  Our appreciation is extended to Mr. McCormick -  it was a great class that discussed many important and very timely topics.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

David Grahn Teaches Class on Crop Insurance

USDA attorney and long time friend of the LL.M. Program, David Grahn video-conferenced with the LL.M. class last week, providing them with an effective and informative introduction to the complexities of federal crop insurance.

David is the Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the USDA. He is responsible for the legal advice provided by the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation/Risk Management Agency, as well as the Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Utilities Service, and the Farm Loan Programs of the Farm Service Agency. From 1996 through 2002, David was the Assistant General Counsel for Legislation responsible for the drafting and reviewing of legislation and the reviewing of Congressional testimony that affected USDA agencies. He was detailed to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition during Congress' consideration of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. From 1992 through 1995, David served as a Confidential Assistant to the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency. Mr. Grahn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and Carleton College.

We greatly appreciate David's involvement in the LL.M. Program. He is one of our most popular visiting professors, and it is always great to have him in the classroom.

As one of the LL.M. candidates wrote to me at the end of last week, "it's wonderful to get to interact with accomplished, motivating people who can give us personal insight into the various policy and legal issues that are the subjects of our studies. This strength is a great asset to the program and I want you to know how enriching our conversations with Mr. Grahn and Mr. Rawls were."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

From the Roots of Our Past Grow the Promises of Tomorrow

Check out the recent message on the USDA blog posted by LL.M. Alumnus Janie Simms Hipp, Native American Role Model Addresses USDA Employees about Global Unity Through Diversity.  Janie serves as the Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs at the USDA.  Her post describes the activities associated with the National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month ceremony, "From the Roots of Our Past Grow the Promises of Tomorrow," held in Washington, DC, Tuesday, November 9, 2010.  Janie highlighted the address given by Billy Mills, 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist and the inspirational words that he spoke, including, “Build a better America and in doing so, build a better world. Global unity through diversity, the future of humankind.”  I encourage everyone to check out the blog post to learn more about the ceremony, Billy Mills' insprirational life, and his presentation.   Our thanks to Janie for posting the message.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Conference with Charles Rawls, FCA General Counsel

On Wednesday, November 10, we were delighted to have the opportunity to do a live video conference with the Farm Credit Administration's General Counsel, Charles Rawls. This conference was the highlight of our study of the Farm Credit System, the unique nationwide network of cooperative lending institutions and related organizations. Farm Credit System lenders provide more than $160 billion in loans, leases, and related services to the agricultural community. The Farm Credit Administration is the independent federal agency that regulates the system. Having the opportunity to talk directly with FCA's general counsel was a tremendous opportunity for our LL.M. class.

Mr. Rawls has had an unparalleled career of leadership in agricultural law and policy. Before joining the FCA in March 2003, he was General Counsel and Vice-President for legal, tax, and accounting at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. During the consideration of the 2002 farm bill, he served as the General Counsel of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. He served as General Counsel for the USDA from 1998 to 2001, and before that served as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. He also served as Counsel to the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Forests, Family Farms, and Energy; Associate General Counsel of the House Committee on Agriculture; and, Legislative Director and Administrative Assistant to Congressman Martin Lancaster.

Mr. Rawls delivered an excellent presentation that included comments regarding the financial crisis, our overall economic environment and the agricultural economy.  He then presented specific information about the role of the Farm Credit System in serving the agricultural community and took a questions from the audience.  His presentation was well-received and informative.  We appreciate Mr. Rawls' willingness to video conference with us, and we hope that it will be the first of a number of connections with the Program.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Unsafe Food Litigation Class: Bill Marler

We were delighted to host Bill Marler for the second part of our condensed course in the LL.M. Program, Unsafe Food & Products Liability.  The course was team taught by Denis Stearns and Bill Marler, both partners in the Seattle based firm, Marler Clark.

 Professor Marler is an accomplished personal injury lawyer and national expert in foodborne illness litigation. He and his partners at Marler Clark have represented thousands of individuals in claims against food companies whose contaminated products have caused serious injury and death.  Professor Marler has been a major force in food safety policy in the United States and abroad through his advocacy for more effective food regulation.  He is one of the founders of Outbreak, a nonprofit consulting group dedicated to food safety advocacy. And, Marler Clark also founded and supports the popular online daily newspaper, the Food Safety News

 Professor Marler began his class with a public presentation on foodborne illness litigation.  His sessions with the LL.M. class focused on actual cases of serious food borne illnesses, with the class evaluating the cases and the discussing damages.  It was a great opportunity for the LL.M. candidates to not only explore the law, but its applicability to real life situations.

We all enjoyed having Bill with us for a couple of days and have already invited him back for next year!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unsafe Food Class: Day One with Denis Stearns

We were delighted to host Professor Denis Stearns today, teaching a full day of product liability law in the context of foodborne illness litigation. Professor Stearns is a partner in the nationally acclaimed Marler Clark food safety firm and was the first at bat in our tag-team Marler Clark class, Unsafe Food & Product Liability.  He did a fantastic job -  bringing the class through the history of product liability law and then introducing the legal concepts essential to foodborne illness litigation.

Tomorrow, we welcome Bill Marler who will begin his teaching with a presentation that is open to the public, from 9:00 - 11:00.   The Unsafe Food & Products Liability class is a great opportunity for our LL.M. candidates to learn from two of the best food safety litigators in the country.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alumni in the News: Janie Hipp

Janie Hipp was recently featured for her work leading the Office of Tribal Relations at the USDA in the article, A Face for the USDA in Indian Country by Brenda Austin, Indian Country Today, October 24, 2010.

In the article, Janie talks about the work that the USDA is doing, working with other offices throughout the federal government "to coordinate services and offer a more effective tribal consultation process. Re-drafting consultation practices and policies and offering training and support to senior managers in the 17 agencies of the USDA is helping to streamline information sharing and target which programs within the USDA might best meet a tribe’s need."
“We are working hard to make tribal governments more familiar with the full array of programs offered by the USDA’s 17 agencies,” Hipp said. “For example, Rural Development has an unbelievable amount of programs tribal governments should, and I hope, will access more in the coming years. In the area of housing there are probably 40 different funding lines for rural housing alone. While HUD is terribly important for Indian country, a lot of times USDA’s programs might not be thought of first, or are overlooked.”
We are proud of the work Janie is doing and appreciate the support she has shown to the LL.M. Program.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monitor in Pigford Litigation Addresses LL.M. Class

Randi Roth, Court-appointed Monitor in the landmark race discrimination case against the United States Department of Agriculture, Pigford v. Glickman, addressed the LL.M. class in our Food, Farming, & Sustainability course.

In the Pigford case, a class of approximately 22,000 African-American farmers sued the USDA, alleging race discrimination in the administration of federal agricultural credit programs. The settlement provided for individual consideration of each of the discrimination claims of the 22,000+ class members, and at this time over $1 billion has been paid out on behalf of those class members who have prevailed. As Monitor, Randi works as an agent and officer of the court, issuing decisions regarding appeals of claim determinations, helping the class members and the government solve problems regarding implementation of the settlement, overseeing the operations of a toll-free phone line for information about the settlement, and reporting to the court about the good faith implementation of the settlement. Randi is now overseeing the final stages of the settlement. Information about all aspects of the monitor's role and the history of the case can be found on the monitor's website.

Randi spoke to the class in an hour long live video conference. The LL.M. candidates gained a deeper understanding of the Pigford case and the complex role of the monitor in the implementation of the settlement. Appreciation is extended to Randi for an excellent presentation.

Randi now serves as Executive Director Otto Bremer Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Northwestern University. She began work as a legal aid attorney on Chicago’s south side at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and left to join the newly formed Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc. (FLAG) where she served as a staff attorney. She served as FLAG’s executive director from 1993 to 2003.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Additional Highlights from DC Trip

Other news from the trip to Washington D.C. taken by LL.M. candidates Lauren Medoff, Claire Mitchell, and Allison Waldrip.

On Wednesday night, Claire had dinner at the St. Regis Hotel with Michelle Greenhalgh and Helena Bottemiller, contributing authors for Food Safety News; and Suzanne Schreck, Food Safety News Web Producer and contributing author. This was the first chance for Claire to meet her colleagues at Food Safety News in person. She was delighted that Bill Marler, of Marler Clark joined the group, and she was able to thank him in person for the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship award. Others in attendance at this high-powered dinner included Colin Caywood, an associate with the Marler Clark firm, and Eddie Kohan, creator of the Obama Foodorama blog.

On Thursday Lauren, Claire, and Allison visited the USDA where they met with LL.M. alumna Janie Simms-Hipp for almost an hour. Janie serves as Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs to USDA Secretary Vilsack and also directs the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. Doug O'Brien, another alum and another of Secretary Vilsack's Senior Advisors stopped by to say hello and welcome them to the USDA. Another of our distinguished alumni, Brett Offutt was also able to join the group. Brett serves as Director of the Policy and Litigation Division of the Packers and Stockyards Program. Lauren returned to USDA on Friday to meet with another GIPSA alum, Cara McCarthy. Cara serves as a Legal Specialist with USDA GIPSA.

Thanks to all that made this trip so rewarding.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

LL.M. Candidates at the National Food Policy Conference

Earlier this fall, three of our current LL.M. candidates, Lauren Medoff, Claire Mitchell, and Allison Waldrip went to Washington, D.C. to attend the 33rd Annual National Food Policy Conference sponsored jointly by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Consumer Federation of America. The theme was “Improving Child Nutrition: New Challenges and Opportunities.” Lauren, Claire, and Allison reported that they thoroughly enjoyed the excellent conference and the opportunity to meet so many food policy leaders.

Samuel D. Kass, Senior Policy Advisor, Healthy Food Initiatives and Assistant White House Chef at The White House delivered the morning keynote address.

Joe W. Thompson, Arkansas Surgeon General and Director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity was the luncheon keynote speaker. It was wonderful to have Arkansas so well represented.

Pictured above, from left to right are Allison, Claire, Samuel Kass, General Joe Thompson, and Lauren.

The candidates also enjoyed meeting the Honorable Representative Marcia Fudge, a Congresswoman recognized for her awareness of the childhood obesity problem. Pictured below are Claire, Allison, Representative Fudge, and Lauren.

Other highlights of the conference included the first public address by newly confirmed USDA FSIS Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. Dr. Hagen outlined the USDA's vision on modernizing the Department's food safety efforts on behalf of consumers. Among the issues addressed were the pathogens not currently addressed by our testing and regulation, problems with traceback of foodborne illness, inconsistent enforcement of animal welfare standards, and efforts to move from a reactive system of food safety to a pro-active preventative system.

Dr. Hagen was introduced by renowned food safety advocate and Arkansas native, Carol Tucker Foreman,and the LL.M. candidates were delighted to have the opportunity to meet her.

The USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, Janey Thornton, also addressed the conference and spoke about her role in overseeing the 15 federal nutrition programs administered by the USDA.

Special thanks goes out to Christopher Waldrop, Director, Food Policy Institute, Consumer Federation of America for his work in organizing the conference and his help in getting our LL.M. candidates to the conference.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Report from the AALA Conference

I just got home from the annual Agricultural Law Association (AALA) Conference, held this year in Omaha, Nebraska. It was a great conference, and I wanted to post about the event for those of you who could not attend. We had wonderful representation for the LL.M. Program, with current candidates and alumni all participating in impressive numbers.

I am very pleased to report that I received this year's AALA Distinguished Service award. The distinguished service award is given to a member of the AALA that demonstrates “sustained excellence” in contributing to the development of agricultural law, the professional development of agricultural law practitioners, a “better understanding of the law by rural citizens;” and “other noteworthy service reflecting the commonly understood ideals and purposes of the AALA.” It was such a honor - I was very touched by the award.

This year the AALA Board created a new award for Excellence in Agricultural Law. This award is given to recognize AALA members for outstanding contributions to the legal profession and the agricultural community. LL.M. alumnus and Director of the National Center for Agricultural Law, Harrison Pittman was the award winner in the academic category. Harrison was recognized for his work with the National Center and the collaborations he has fostered between the National Center and the AALA, including the Agricultural and Food Law blog and the Agricultural Law listserv. Congratulations, Harrison.

LL.M. Alumna, Anne (Beth) Crocker, counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture was elected to the AALA Board of Directors for a three year term beginning this fall. Alumnus Allen Olson, a practicing attorney from Albany Georgia and Visiting Professor for the LL.M. Program was elected to the AALA Board last year, so now serves in the second year of his three year term. It is wonderful to have such excellent representation on the board.

LL.M. alumni who presented at the conference included:

Terry Centner, Professor, University of Georgia

  • CAFO Issues in the Courts and the EPA

Anne (Beth Crocker), counsel for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture

  • Food Safety: State Initiatives in South Carolina

Anne Hazlett, Minority Counsel, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee,

  • Farm Bill of the Future: Issues and Consensus Building

Martha Noble, Senior Policy Associate, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

  • Food Safety Legislation: Small Farms and Direct Marketing Issues
  • Agriculture and Forestry in Land Use Regulation

Jeffrey Peterson, shareholder, Gray, Plant, Mooty, PA St. Cloud, MN

  • Agricultural Bankruptcy Update

Ross Pifer, Director, The Agricultural Law Resource & Reference Center, Penn State Dickinson School of Law

  • The Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Rush
Harrison Pittman, Director of the National Center for Agricultural Law

  • Natural Gas, Wind & Solar Energy
  • Farm Bill of the Future

Michael T. Roberts, Special Counsel, Roll, International; Director, Center for Integrity in the Food Industry

  • Issues in Corporate Food Safety; Corporate Sustainability

Susan Schneider, Professor and Director, LL.M. in Agricultural & Food Law

  • New Developments in Food Law
  • Food Safety: New Concerns & Increased Regulation
  • Crop Insurance Issues

Jennifer Williams Zwaggerman, Associate, Faegre & Benson, Visiting Scholar, Drake University School of Law

  • Food Safety: Egg Contamination and a New Regulatory Framework

Visiting Professor Neil Hamilton, Professor, Drake University School of Law and Director, Drake Agricultural Law Center, presented the Annual Update on Issues of Food, Energy, and New Farmers and moderated the panel on Sustainability, Organic Production and Energy.

Visiting Professor David Grahn, USDA Office of General Counsel, spoke on Crop Insurance Issues, presenting an overview of the complex federal crop insurance program and highlighting new issues.

Sixteen of this year’s class of LL.M. candidates were in attendance as were many alumni including:

Joel Cape, Frilot LLC, New Orleans, Louisiana

Elizabeth (Springstein) Rumley, National Center for Agricultural Law

Rusty Rumley, National Center for Agricultural Law

Craig Raysor, USDA, GIPSA, Denver, Colorado

Cara McCarthy, USDA, GIPSA, Washington, D.C.

Harrison Pittman, National Center for Agricultural Law

Beth Crocker, South Carolina Dept of Agriculture

Brett Offutt, USDA GIPSA, Washington, D.C.

Kurt Olson, Miller Law Firm, Decorah, Iowa

Michael Roberts, Roll, International, Los Angeles, California

Jeff Feirick, Clemons Family Corporation, Hatfield, Pennsylvania

Anne Hazlett, Senate Ag Committee, Washington, D.C.

Jeff Peterson, Gray, Plant, Mooty, PA, St. Cloud, Minnesota

Martha Noble, National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition, Washington, D.C.

Terry Centner, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Teena Gunter, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Michael Knipe, USDA Office of General Counsel

Jennifer Zwaggerman, Faegre & Benson

Ross Pifer, Penn State Dickinson School of Law, State College, Pennsylvania

It was wonderful to see friends, colleagues, meet new students, and catch up with our alumni. My only regret was not having more time to catch up with some of our alumni. With record attendance at the conference and over 50 students in attendance, quite of few of whom wanted to talk to us about the LL.M. Program, it was a very busy time! If I missed anyone in my list - please let me know so I can update and correct! And, if anyone took pictures at the conference, please send them in for posting. Robert Achenbach sent me the award picture. That's me with Jesse Richardson, practicing attorney and Associate Professor, Virginia Tech, chair of the AALA Awards Committee and newly elected AALA Board member.

Next year's conference will be October 22-23 in Austin, Texas. I hope to see you all there!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Alumni Friends Connecting in D.C.

Pictured here, left to right, are Jennifer Fiser and Ulyana Korzhevych. Jennifer, from Arkansas and Ulyana, from Lyiv, Ukraine met each other and became friends during their LL.M. studies 2008-09. We are now pleased to report that they have re-connected in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer just began her new position at USDA, where she serves as Agricultural Program Specialist with Farm Service Agency in the Production, Emergencies, and Compliance Division. Ulyana is interning for the White and Case international law firm in Washington, D.C., serving as an International Lawyer.

The picture was taken at the annual Adams Morgan Day festival in Washington, D.C. There, Jennifer was able to introduce Ulyana to "fried American street food (kettle chips, to be exact)." It was also reported that they had mini donuts on a stick that were "wonderful." Nice to see our hardworking D.C. alums having some fun on the weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

LL.M. Alumni and GIPSA Rules

Last week, our alumni at the National Center for Agricultural Law held the first in a series of workshops for poultry and livestock producers on the new rules proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

Center Director, Harrison Pittman and Staff Attorneys Elizabeth Rumley, Shannon Mirus, and Rusty Rumley provided an overview of the proposed rule and described regulatory changes that would affect Arkansas poultry and livestock producers. In addition, they reviewed the GIPSA rulemaking process and explained how to submit comments to the proposed rules. The session was well attended and ended with a question and answer session. Two more workshops will be held here in Arkansas and a webinar available nationally will be held on October 14. For information visit the Center's website or contact Beth at

LL.M. Program alumni have been deeply involved in all sides of the issues raised by the GIPSA proposed rule. At the USDA/Department of Justice sponsored Competition Workshop in Colorado in August, it was almost an alumni reunion. We received reports that the following alumni were all in attendance:
  • Craig Raysor, Investigative Attorney, USDA GIPSA
  • Brett Offutt, Director, Policy and Litigation Division, Packers and Stockyards Program, USDA GIPSA
  • Doug O'Brien, Special Advisor to USDA Secretary Vilsack
  • Chuck Munson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Consumer Protection, Montana Attorney General's Office
  • Jennifer (Williams) Zwagerman, Associate Attorney, Faegre & Benson; 2010-11 Faegre & Benson Visiting Scholar at Drake University Law School
  • Anne Hazlett, Minority Council, U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee
  • Allie Devine, Vice President and General Counsel, Kansas Livestock Association
  • Jack Jenson, Legal Specialist for GIPSA.
It was reported to us that Visiting Professor Phil Kunkel with the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty based in Minnesota was also at the workshop and visited with some of our alums. Not in attendance, but very involved in the rulemaking process was Cara McCarthy, Legal Specialist for GIPSA in Washington, D.C.

Let us know if we missed anyone!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

LL.M. Program Highlighted in Food Safety News

Agricultural law as a discipline and the LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law are featured in a headline article, Learning the Law From Farm to Fork, on Food Safety News today. The article was written by Claire Mitchell, a current LL.M. candidate and the recipient of the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship in the LL.M. Program.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Claire Mitchell Named Marler Clark Graduate Assistant

We are pleased to announce that LL.M. Candidate Claire Mitchell has been selected as the recipient of the Marler Clark Graduate Assistantship, part of our new public/private partnership.

The public/private partnership graduate assistant program allows us to partner with leaders in the food and agricultural legal communities, matching our candidates with firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system. The participation of Marler Clark L.L.P., P.C. located in Seattle, Washington is indeed an honor for us.

Claire received her J.D. degree from Hofstra University with a concentration in Energy and the Environment. She received her B.A., majoring in English, from Villanova University, magna cum laude. During law school, Claire served as Articles Editor, for the Hofstra Labor & Employment Law Journal, was elected President of the Legal Emergency Aid Project and elected Treasurer of Hofstra Law Women. She also served as Program Coordinator for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and Editorial Assistant for BAR/BRI Bar Review. She was awarded a Certificate in Mediation Skills, approved by the New York State Office of Court Administration.

Claire has clerking experience in private practice and internships with Nassau County Supreme Court and Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She co-authored the article, Who’s Your Daddy: A Proposal for Paid Family Leave to Promote the Growth of Families, is published at 27 HOFSTRA LABOR & EMP L.J. 199 (2010).

Among Claire's duties as a Graduate Assistant for Marler Clark will be writing for the Food Safety News, the daily Web-based newspaper dedicated to reporting on issues surrounding food safety presented by Marler Clark.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Richard Flournoy Named Bassett Law Firm LLP Graduate Assistant

We are pleased to announce that LL.M. Candidate, Richard Flournoy has been selected as the recipient of the Bassett Law Firm LLP Graduate Assistantship, part of our new public/private partnership.

The public/private partnership graduate assistant program allows us to partner with leaders in the food and agricultural legal communities, matching our candidates with firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system. The participation of Bassett Law Firm LLP in this program is indeed an honor for us.

Richard received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Georgia, cum laude and his J.D. from Mercer University, cum laude. He had a distinguished record in law school, serving as a member of the Mercer Law Review and receiving the Mercer Law Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement in Legal Writing. In addition he received CALI Awards for Excellence in both Legal Writing and in Commercial Transactions. Richard served as the Secretary of the Mercer Environmental Law Society. He interned for the Agricultural Liaison to the Governor of Georgia and clerked with several Georgia law firms. And, he served as Campaign Intern for Gary Black for Agriculture in the election race for Commissioner of Agriculture in Georgia.

Congratulations, Richard!

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Public/Private Assistantship Program Announced

We are pleased to announce a new public/private partnership that connects the LL.M. Program with leaders in the food and agricultural legal communities. This partnership allows us to offer two new graduate assistantships, matching our candidates with law firms and agencies working on the cutting edge of our food system.

Two distinguished law firms, Bassett Law Firm LLP and the Marler Clark Law Firm are our first partners in this program, and their participation is indeed an honor for us.

Bassett Law Firm LLP, located in Fayetteville, serves clients in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. Since the firm’s founding in October 1981 by the late Bill Bassett and his two sons, Woody and Tod, Bassett Law Firm LLP has enjoyed many accomplishments and sustained growth. The foundation of the firm has been and remains its commitment to the service of its clients, the profession, and the community.

In 2005, Bassett Law Firm LLP was included, for the third time, in Corporate Counsel magazine’s list of “Who Represents America’s Biggest Companies?” In 2006, Small Firm Business included Bassett Law Firm LLP in the publication’s recognition of “Small Firms with Fortune 250 Clients.” The Bassett Law Firm LLP was recently selected by CitiScapes Metro Monthly as the area’s “best law firm” in the periodical’s “Best of Northwest Arkansas” edition. And, in 2009 the United States Department of Defense recognized Bassett Law Firm LLP as one of only three employers in Arkansas to receive the “Pro Patria” award for the most exceptional support of employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserve.

Included in a wide range of community service, Bassett Law Firm LLP has been a particular friend to the University of Arkansas School of Law. The firm annually sponsors the Trial Advocacy scholarship prize to a J.D. student selected by the law faculty. And, thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from the firm, the law school is proud to have its premier W.W. Bassett, Jr. Classroom.

Agricultural Law is a significant practice area for Bassett Law Firm LLP. Partner, Vince Chadick and firm attorney, K.C. Tucker are both graduates of the LL.M. Program in Agricultural Law. A number of LL.M. candidates have clerked at the firm. Vince Chadick is a popular adjunct professor in the LL.M. Program, teaching Regulation of Livestock Sales each fall.

Bassett Law Firm has agreed to participate in the assistantship program for both semesters of this year.

Marler Clark is often recognized as the nation’s foremost law firm representing victims of foodborne illness. Since 1998, Marler Clark attorneys have been involved in almost all of the major food poisoning cases in the U.S., representing victims of Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7, Hepatitis A, Listeria, Norovirus, Salmonella, and Shigella outbreaks across the country.

In addition to their work on behalf of victims in the courtroom, Bill Marler, Bruce Clark, and Denis Stearns formed OutBreak, Inc., the nonprofit, consulting arm of the firm. OutBreak was founded with the "radical notion that the same lawyers who sue on behalf of victims of foodborne illness are best suited to help responsible companies with their food safety challenges." The attorneys travel several days a month, giving speeches to and consulting with food-industry groups and environmental health agencies.

Marler Clark also founded Food Safety News, the acclaimed online national daily newspaper reporting on food safety and related issues.

Bill Marler has been a tireless supporter of the reform of our food safety laws, through frequent media interviews, the very popular Marler Blog, his active Twitter feed, and his "Put a Trial Lawyer Out of Business" campaign.

Denis Stearns is a frequent author and speaker on a wide variety of topics related to food, law, economics, and policy, and is the author of two book-chapters, a law journal article, and numerous other articles, essays, and opinion pieces. His most recent article, ON (CR)EDIBILITY: Why Food in the U.S. May Never Be Safe, is soon to be published in the Stanford Law & Policy Review. He also has published with School of Law's Journal of Food Law & Policy.

Bill Marler and Denis Stearns will co-teach a condensed course on food safety liability this November. Marler Clark will participate in the assistantship program during the Fall semester 2010.

We are delighted to partner with these leaders in the legal community and are grateful for their support. Our appreciation is also extended to the Graduate School at the University of Arkansas, former Dean of the Graduate School, Dean Collis Geren, Associate Dean Patricia Koski, and Dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law, Cynthia Nance.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On the personal side . . .

Just had to post a couple of pictures that I received from our alumni. Above is the birth announcement for Ignacio - the beautiful new son of Liliana Reyes Botaro and her husband Ricardo Molano León. Liliana was in the LL.M. Program last year and is continuing work on her thesis.

And, below - two of our wonderful alumni in D.C., Cara McCarthy who works at USDA GIPSA and Amy Lowenthal, who works in the USDA Office of the Inspector General. That handsome young man in the middle is Amy and her husband Don's son, Gabriel.

2010 Fall Semester Courses

Last week, the LL.M. candidates completed their condensed course with Professor Hamilton, the Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture. This week, the regularly scheduled fall semester classes begin. These classes are described as follows:

Agriculture & the Environment
This course has always been one of our core courses in the curriculum. It examines the tensions between the desire to produce food and fiber efficiently and the concern for the protection of natural resources. Agriculture is increasingly criticized for its impact on the environment. This impact and its regulation will be discussed and debated. The application of the major federal environmental statutes to agricultural operations will be presented, with discussion of the exemptions for agriculture and the impact of industrialized agricultural production on environmental regulation. Professor Christopher Kelley, a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law has taught this course and related environmental courses since joining the faculty. Professor Kelley has taught agricultural law, natural resources law, forestry law and related subjects in a number of settings including the University of North Dakota School of Law, the University of South Dakota School of Law, the William Mitchell College of Law, and at the Drake University School of Law Summer Agricultural Law Institute. He has practiced agricultural law at large law firms in Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and with small firms in Fargo, North Dakota and Camilla, Georgia.

Food Law & Policy
This course examines the network of laws that govern food safety and food labeling and considers how well this network works to protect and advise American consumers. It considers the regulation of food by the Food & Drug Administration and by the US Department of Agriculture, weaving policy issues into the discussion of the U.S. food system. Professor Schneider is a tenured professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law and has served as Director of the LL.M. Program since 2000. She began teaching this course in 2007, shifting her research focus and her presentations to the area of food law and policy. She has practiced and taught agricultural and food law for all of her legal career, teaching at William Mitchell College of Law and at the Drake University Summer Agricultural Law Institute and practicing with firms in Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington, D.C.

Regulation of Livestock Sales
This course examines the Packers & Stockyards Act, with a focus on the prohibition of unfair practices, industry consolidation and antitrust concerns, mandatory price reporting, and the protections provided for livestock marketing. Professor Vince Chadick has taught this course for several years , successfully weaving his practice experience into the classroom. He is a very popular adjunct professor at the University of Arkansas School of Law and a shareholder in the Bassett Law Firm in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He holds his LL.M. in Agricultural Law and practices in the areas of agricultural, environmental, business, and commercial law. He was one of the attorneys involved in the landmark case brought by the state of Oklahoma against Arkansas poultry processors for the contamination of waters flowing into Oklahoma from Northwest Arkansas, spending much of last fall and early winter in trial. The parties are still awaiting a decision.

Food, Farming & Sustainability
This new 3 credit course will be adapted from the casebook by the same name, in publication with Carolina Press and authored by the instructor, Professor Schneider. It will consist of one hour of traditional lecture/discussion and two hours of special presentations each week. The course is designed to provide an issues-based study of some of the complex topics that make up the body of agricultural law. It will be divided into discreet units designed to introduce some of the critical legal issues facing the industry and consumers today. Agricultural commercial law, environmental law, federal farm policy, labor law, food labeling, farm animal welfare, the global food system and other topics will be included, each presented in the context of a current issue. The course will provide a mix of law and policy, and it is designed to spark thoughtful dialogue.

Independent Research/Readings in Agricultural & Food Law
This independent study course offers LL.M. candidates an opportunity to explore an area of interest or a particular reading that is not addressed elsewhere in the curriculum. One popular approach is to select one or more books on a food or agricultural law topic for study, with an oral and written book review required. Professor Schneider approves all plans of study and provides guidance throughout the semester.

In addition to our regularly scheduled semester courses, we are delighted to add a new condensed course to our Fall line up. The week of November 2, we will offer Unsafe Food & Product Liability. This new condensed course will be structured on a recent publication, Contaminated Fresh Produce and Product Liability. It will begin with an historical overview to show how product liability law (especially strict liability) developed, highlighting early cases involving defective food. It will pivot into political, economic, and regulatory issues, using a case-study approach derived from real cases and clients. The course will be team-taught by nationally recognized trial lawyers, Bill Marler and Denis Stearns with the firm of Marler Clark in Seattle, Washington. Bill Marler visited the LL.M. Program last fall, speaking to a packed audience regarding his experiences representing the victims of food borne illness. We are delighted to welcome him back with his partner, Denis Stearns who has published extensively on food safety issues and teaches and lectures at several other schools including UCS and Michigan State.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank you to our Friends

Today we finished up the first class of the new semester - a condensed course called An Introduction to the Law of Food & Agriculture taught by Professor Neil Hamilton. Professor Hamilton has taught this introductory class for us for a number of years, and it is always a good way to start off the year. This year, it seemed to go exceptionally well - we have a great group of new LL.M. candidates that really appreciated the special opportunity presented by Neil's visit.

Although most readers of this blog will know Neil - check out the wonderful article about him that was posted in a recent Des Moines magazine, Hamilton. As noted in the article, he is "one of the world’s preeminent experts on sustainable agriculture."

This year Neil was particularly energized and yet very reflective as he kicked off his sabbatical year with his visit to Arkansas. The class was a great success - with lots of good discussion and a fast-paced overview of some of the biggest issues in agricultural law.

This afternoon, we were delighted to have a special visitor - LL.M. alumna Janie Simms Hipp was in town and stopped by to welcome the new class. Janie delivered an inspiring call to action regarding the legal needs in rural America and discussed her work with Native Americans. Janie, a member of the Chickasaw tribe and a long time advocate on behalf of family farmers, now serves as Senior Advisor for Tribal Affairs to USDA Secretary Vilsack and also directs the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. We are grateful for Janie's continued support for the Program and hope that she will visit whenever she has a chance to come home to Arkansas. The LL.M. candidates are already making plans to visit her in D.C.

A great week to start off an exciting new year!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Introducing the LL.M. Class of 2011

This fall, we welcome the largest LL.M. class ever, with an enrollment of nineteen candidates - seventeen new LL.M. candidates and two returning part-time candidates - in a class composed of a mix of experienced attorneys and recent law graduates.

Our experienced attorneys have professional experience that includes leadership at Wal-Mart as Sustainable Development Director, Judge Advocate service at the Pentagon, service as an FAA Regional Environmental Counsel, and international trade experience as a practicing attorney. We also welcome a professor of law from Yeunganam University in the Republic of Korea.

Our recent law graduates obtained their degrees from the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, Washington University, the University of Oregon, Hofstra University, the University of Miami, Mercer University, Novgorod State University in Novgorod, Russia, and our own University of Arkansas School of Law.

Brief biographies of the incoming class are provided below.

Kimberly Arnao

J.D. Pace University School of Law, cum laude, Certificate of Specialty, Environmental Law
B.A., Rutgers College (Biology, Natural Resource Management)
Admitted to practice, Ohio
Former Regional Environmental Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, Southern Region
Other professional experience includes service as Deputy Regional Environmental Counsel, U.S. Air Force; Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force
Recipient of Commendation, Achievement, and Meritorious Service medals, U.S. Air Force.

Kerri Boling
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law
B.S., University of Arkansas (Agriculture/Agricultural Business)
Served as a law clerk in the Legal Department of Tyson Foods; Clerked for Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Jim Gunter; Clerked for the USDA Office of General Counsel in Kansas City
Research Assistant, National Center for Agricultural Law
Co-authored the first Arkansas Beef Audit Report for the Arkansas Beef Council; authored case summaries published on the National Agricultural Law Center’s website; contributor to Arkansas Cattle Business Magazine.

Richard Burnett

J.D., University of Oregon
B.S., Brigham Young University (Agronomy/Environmental Science)
M.S., Agronomy, Brigham Young University
Graduate Teaching Fellow, Department of Biology, University of Oregon
Co-author, The Great Tikal Earthwork Revisited, 32 JOURNAL OF FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY 41 (2007); Final Report: Re-evaluation of the Earthworks at Tikal, Guatemala: Phase 2, National Science Foundation (2007)
Thesis: Stable Carbon Isotope Evidence of Ancient Maya Agriculture at Tikal, Guatemala.

Marie David
LL.B., University of Benin, Benin, Nigeria
Barrister-at-Law, Nigerian Law School, Lagos, Nigeria
Georgia Institute of Real Estate, Atlanta Georgia
Certificate in Computer Training/Development, DeKalb, Georgia
Former Director of Sustainability, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; previous positions with Wal-Mart include, Director of Social Responsibility, Social Responsibility Manager, Project Specialist for Global Supply Chain Management
Prior Experience includes Consultant, eBusiness Solutions, General Electric Power Systems; and Product Development Manager & Senior Technical Analyst, United States Advanced Network.

Richard Flournoy
J.D., Mercer University, cum laude
B.A., University of Georgia, cum laude (Political Science)
Member, Mercer Law Review
Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement in Legal Writing; CALI Awards for Excellence in Legal Writing and in Commercial Transactions;
Secretary, Mercer Environmental Law Society
Internship as Agricultural Liaison to the Governor of Georgia; Private practice legal clerkships; Campaign Intern, Gary Black for Agriculture.

Jason Foscolo
J.D. Pace University Law School
B.A., Fordham University (History)
Admitted to practice law, New York
Former Deputy Branch Head, Judge Advocate Support, Marine Corps, Pentagon
Prior experience includes service as Deputy Station Judge Advocate, Defense Counsel Marine Corp Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan
Author of a recurring professional responsibility column in weekly JAG publication
Former staff attorney, Sullivan & Cromwell, New York.

Alexandra Gainsteva
Law degree from Novgorod State University in Novgorod, Russia
Professional Communications Translator, Novgorod State University
Study at UA School of Law as visiting scholar, 2009-2010
Former Legal Counsel, Novgorod Regional Social Organization (“Consumers Union”); Internships with Federal Registration Service of Russian Federation and Dept of Home Affairs, Novgorod Region
Admitted to practice law in Russia.

Maxim Gubarev
Law degree from Novgorod State University in Novgorod, Russia
Russian-American Summer Law School in Saint-Petersburg; Jessup Jessup Moot Court Competition, Russian national rounds; Prometheus program at the University of Tartu (Estonia), studying European law, policies and international relations
Study at UA School of Law as visiting scholar, 2008-2009
Internships with Export-Import customs brokerage firm in Novgorod, dealing with Russian Customs Service and at the Russian largest retail company - "Thunder" Ltd., working for the department of Analysis and Investigations (Novgorod branch)
Recipient of the Russia-U.S. Legal Education Foundation and Oxford-Russia Fund academic grants
Admitted to practice law in Russia
Authored Responsibility of Transnational Corporations for Human Rights Violations for the International Legal Conference, Novgorod State University.

David Jackson
J.D., University of Kansas
B.A., George Mason University (English)
Former practicing attorney, Miller and Company, P.C
Admitted to the Missouri Bar and the Court of International Trade Bar; Passed Customs Broker Examination (license application pending)
CALI Award for Excellence in Advanced International Trade; International Trade Assistant, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service
Co-authored book chapter, Toward Equal Human Dignity in Free Trade Agreements, with international law scholar, Professor Raj Bhala, Rice Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas School of Law
Other professional experience includes: University Professor, Department of Management and Economics, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, People’s Republic of China (teaching oral communication and written composition); RBL Investigator and Certified Information Systems Security Professional.

Tae Huan Keum (attending the LL.M. Program on his sabbatical)
Law Professor (Administrative Law, Agricultural Law), College of Law, Yeunganam University
LL.B., Seoul National University, Republic of Korea
LL.M., Administrative Law, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea
LL.D., Administrative Law, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea
Admitted to practice law, Republic of Korea
Publications include, The WTO Case Against U.S. Subsidies on Upland Cotton (2009); The Meaning of the U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Lingle v. Chevron (2008); Advocate for the Agriculture and Agriculture Law (2007); The Reviewability of Rule in Korea, China and Japan (2007); The Text and Intent in Interpretation of Administrative Law (2007); The Historical Transition of Management Subjects of Agricultural Water & Water Rights (2007); The Substantial Evidence Test in the Federal Administrative Procedure Act (2007); LEGAL ISSUES IN EVERYDAY LIFE (2006); ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS (coauthor) (2005).

Lauren Medoff
J.D., University of Miami, cum laude
B.A., University of Florida, cum laude (Psychology)
B.S., University of Florida, cum laude (Criminology)
Intern and clerkship experience: Service as a Federal Certified Legal Intern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office involving food safety and criminal liability issues; Private practice clerkships; Internships with the Children & Youth Law Clinic and with the Florida Fifteenth Judicial Circuit
Co-chair of the University of Miami School of Law School Ambassadors; Inter-club Counsel member; 2009 Orientation Committee Leader.

David Milender
J.D., University of Iowa B.A. (Political Science)
Purdue University (Political Science), Highest Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa
Clinical and internship experience: Prosecutor Intern, Muscatine County Attorney’s Office, Legal Clinic (Law & Policy in Action and Immigration Program); Lake County State Attorney’s Office
Justice, Student Judicial Court
Other professional experience: Supervisor/Project Coordinator, Kleffmann Group (supervised collection of agricultural market data).

Claire Mitchell
J.D., Hofstra University, Concentration in Energy and the Environment
B.A. Villanova University, magna cum laude
Certificate in Mediation Skills approved by the New York State Office of Court Administration
President, Legal Emergency Aid Project; Treasurer, Hofstra Law Women; Program Coordinator, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Clerking experience in private practice and internships with Nassau County Supreme Court and Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office;
Editorial Assistant for BAR/BRI Bar Review
Authored Who’s Your Daddy: A Proposal for Paid Family Leave to Promote the Growth of Families, 27 HOFSTRA LABOR & EMP L.J. 199 (2010).

Kathryn Peters
J.D., University of Oregon
B.A., University of Oregon (Accounting)
University of Oregon Award of Excellence 2007-2010;
Clinical experience, serving as a volunteer, intern and extern for the Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center and externing with the Small Business Clinic
Research Assistant, Professor Nancy Shurtz
Authored Creating an Urban Agricultural Revolution, J. ENVTL. L. LITIG. (forthcoming 2010)
Other professional experience includes ownership of Dark Hollow, a natural fiber clothing line, with responsibility for design, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, as well as all aspects of financial accounting; and, service as a Licensed Tax Preparer, H&R Block.

Jeremy Pyle
J.D., University of Oregon School of Law
B.A., DePauw University (Political Science)
Clerkship experience at the Western Environmental Law Center, the Oregon Department of Justice, and Cascadia Wildlands; Internship with Oregon State Representative Jules Kopel Bailey
Organizer, Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Officer, Land Air Water.

Dorian Slaybod
J.D., Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University
B.A., The Ohio State University (Sociology)
President of the Environmental Law Society, the American Constitution Society, and the Jewish Law Students Association
Legal internship experience with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Governor’s office, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office (working with the Alternative Energy Task Force), the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, and with a private law firm
Legal clerkship experience in agricultural labor law with the Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (Migrant Farmworker Program); and with a private law firm (working in civil rights and employment discrimination litigation)
Authored A Lack of Consensus: The World’s Conflicting Policies on Biofuels and The Obama Administration’s Stance on Biofuels, both published in the ABA Ag Management Committee Newsletter; Contributor, ABA YEAR IN REVIEW, Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources 2008 and 2009 Annual Reports.

Stacey Sturner
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law
B.A., University of Texas (Government)
Current position as staff member, Northwest Arkansas Council
Former Legislative Assistant to Senator Dale Bumpers, Washington, D.C.; Legislative Affairs, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C.

Benjamin Thomas
J.D., Washington University School of Law
B.A., Austin College (English Literature, German)
Recipient, Scholar in Law Award
Vice President, Women’s Issues, Support & Education
Participant in the Congressional and Administrative Law Clinic, Federal Trade Commission, Office of Chairman Leibowitz
Steiger Fellow, New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, Antitrust Division
Internship with Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc.
Authored Note: Fifth Circuit Interpretation of the Packers & Stockyards Act in Wheeler v. Pilgrim’s Pride: Finally Giving Farmers a Chance
Other professional experience includes: Manager of Farm Services, J.B. Thomas Enterprises, Inc. and service as an English Language Teaching Assistant for the Austrian-American Fulbright Commission in Rankweil, Austria.

Allison Waldrip
J.D., University of Arkansas School of Law
B.A. (English Literature/Broadcast Journalism) University of Arkansas, cum laude
Numerous oral advocacy awards including Best Oral Advocate, National Moot Court Competition; member of the First Place Team, National Moot Court Competition; Best Oralist, Ben J. Altheimer Moot Court Competition; member of the First Place Team William H. Sutton Barrister’s Union Trial Competition
Clerkship experience in private practice
Served as Assistant to the Director of Communications, Dean’s Office, Univ. of Arkansas School of Law
Former News Anchor & Station Manager, University of Arkansas Television.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

LL.M Alumni Speak at National Ag Law Conference

The law firm of Faegre & Benson LLP held a major conference July 28 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This Food, Agriculture & Biofuels National Conference focused on"Agricultural Production to Food Consumption: Meeting the Challenges for Sustainable Success." It was designed for "senior industry leaders, including executives, senior representatives, and lawyers," and there were over two hundred attendees.

The LL.M. Program was well represented. Professor Christopher Kelley delivered a presentation on agriculture & the environment. Another alumnus, Professor Alison Peck from the University of West Virginia School of Law, spoke on agricultural biotechnology. Faegre & Benson Attorney, Jennie Williams Zwaggerman was one of the conference organizers and moderated the food labeling session.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jennie Zwagerman Chosen as Visiting Scholar

We are very pleased to announce that LL.M. alumna Jennie Williams Zwagerman has been appointed as Visiting Scholar at Drake University School of Law. Her appointment is the first for a new partnership between the law firm where she practices, Faegre & Benson, and Drake University's Agricultural Law Center.

Zwagerman is uniquely qualified for this appointment given her practice in the arena of food, agriculture and agribusiness litigation in the Des Moines office of Faegre & Benson, a respected 475-attorney firm with a well recognized practice group in food, agriculture and biofuels. Jennie received her law degree from Drake University Law School, studying under Professor Neil Hamilton, and her LL.M. degree in Agricultural & Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. During her visiting scholar year, Jennie will continue as a member of the litigation practice at Faegre & Benson, but will be in residence at the law school teaching agricultural and food law courses. Congratulations, Jennie - we are confident that you will do an excellent job.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Alumni Update: Amy Lowenthal

Amy Lowenthal recently left her position as Majority Counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee to accept the position of Assistant Counsel to the Inspector General at USDA. In her new position, Amy is in charge of legislative and regulatory review for OIG. In this critical role, she analyzes and provides guidance on proposed legislation and regulations of interest to the Inspector General. She also provides OIG Auditors and Investigators with a congressional/policy perspective on emerging issues in agriculture. Congratulations, Amy, on a wonderful new opportunity!

P.S. When I asked Amy for a photograph to post along with this announcement, she suggested a picture of her son Gabriel. While I did eventually convince her to submit a picture of herself, I thought everyone would also enjoy the picture of little Gabriel!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Congratulations to LL.M. Candidate Courtney Henry

On Tuesday, May 18, LL.M. Candidate Courtney Henry was elected to serve as a Justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court. We are very proud of Courtney and are confident she will make a great Supreme Court Justice. While we don't anticipate that Courney will have time to complete her LL.M. degree in the near future, our loss is Arkansas' gain. Congratulations.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Congratulations to the Class of 2010

Last Saturday was graduation for the University of Arkansas School of Law and for our LL.M. candidates. It was a delightful ceremony. We are so proud of the hard work of this year's LL.M. candidates - it was truly a great class. Two of our candidates, Baylen Linnekin and Walt McCarter were able to complete not only their coursework but their thesis during the school year. The rest of the class is expected to complete work on their articles over the summer. We anticipate a 100% graduation rate from this excellent group of attorneys.

And, as the class of 2010 graduates, preparation for the class of 2011 carries us forward. Several of the new candidates have already visited Fayetteville to find apartments and explore their new community. More on the new class in a subsequent post - but it looks to be one of our largest classes ever. Fourteen are now enrolled, and we are still receiving applications from qualified attorneys.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Living on Earth: Round Up Ready Alfalfa

Earlier this week, I received an email from Jessica Ilyse Smith, journalist and producer of the Public Radio International show, Living on Earth. Jessica got my email address as a result of my participation in the Agricultural Law blog, part of the Jurisdynamics network of legal blogs.

Jessica was working on a story about the case of Monsanto Co. v Geertson Seed Farms and wanted an overview of the case and its implications. I was honored to oblige, and you can listen to the program, now available on the Living on Earth website under the Judging Biotech Seeds heading. I just completed a companion post on Agricultural Law that describes the case. It involves the commercial sale and planting of genetically engineered alfalfa seed.

Living on Earth is commended for reporting on this important case.

Professor Kelley Lectures in Belarus

Professor Christopher Kelley will lecture on legal writing in English at the Law Faculty of Belarusian State University in Minsk, Belarus, on May 5, 6, and 7. He was invited to lecture at the University while he was in Minsk in December leading a workshop in legal writing at the Vlasova Mikhel & Partners Law Firm in Minsk. His May lectures are being coordinated by Maria Yurieva, an attorney with the Sorainen Law Firm in Minsk. Sorainen is a regional law firm with offices in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Belarus.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Phil Kunkel Delivers Successful Class on Contracting

Last week, we had record attendance for our new class, Field to Table: The Use (and Occasional Abuse) of Marketing Contracts and Production Contracts in Agriculture taught by commercial law expert, Philip Kunkel of the law firm of Gray Plant Mooty based in Minnesota. In addition to our LL.M. candidates and a J.D. student, we were delighted to host a number of returning alumni. They attended the class for CLE credit, and it was a great opportunity for them to reconnect with old friends.

The class was very well received. Phil's knowledge and experience in the area of agricultural contracting was impressive, and he successfully integrated caselaw, regulatory law, and policy with real world examples of contracting disputes. Included in the course materials were examples of contracts used in a variety of agricultural sectors, from hog production to grapes for wine production.

The timeliness of the class was evidenced by the publication of a Washington Post article on agricultural contracting, published the first day of the class, Meat, Poultry Industries Await New Antitrust Rules. And, one of our alumni in the class was Brett Offutt, one of the authors of the new rules, which are now in the hand of the Secretary of Agriculture. Brett serves as Policy and Litigation Director for the USDA GIPSA's Packers and Stockyards Administration. Despite a good deal of friendly banter between Phil and Brett, Brett was able to return to D.C. without having divulged any of the secrets of yet-to-be announced proposed regulations.

We were also delighted to be able to introduce Phil to Archie Schaffer, Tyson Foods’ Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs. Phil reconnected with friend and colleague Nate Hodne, VP Associate General Counsel & Assistant Secretary, Tyson Foods and met UA School of Law alumna Christine Daugherty, Senior Counsel at Tyson.

The contracting course provides an example of our commitment to
study the full spectrum of law and policy from "from farm to fork" - from the perspective of the farmer, the processor, the retailer, and the consumer. Our appreciation is extended to Phil for the time and effort he put into the making the course such a success. And, our thanks as well to LL.M. alumnus, Jeff Peterson who is also a principal at Gray Plant Mooty for helping Phil to prepare the excellent course materials and presentations.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

David Grahn to Return for Ag Policy / Budget Lectures

We are delighted to announce that David Grahn, Associate General Counsel for Rural Dev't at USDA will return to lecture on Agricultural Policy and the Federal Budget Rules on April 5-6. David taught this subject for us last year and the LL.M. candidates raved about how much they learned about the federal budgetary process and agricultural policy. David delivers a fast paced and real world explanation of how things work inside the Beltway, how budgetary rules often drive policy decisions, and how policymakers need to understand the process in order to advance their causes.

David is the Associate General Counsel for Rural Development at the United States Department of Agriculture. Mr. Grahn is responsible for the legal advice provided by the Office of the General Counsel to the Rural Housing Service, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Utilities Service, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation/Risk Management Agency, and the Farm Loan Programs of the Farm Service Agency. From 1996 through 2002, he was the Assistant General Counsel for Legislation responsible for the drafting and reviewing of legislation and the reviewing of Congressional testimony that affected agencies of the Department of Agriculture. He was detailed to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition during Congress' consideration of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. From 1992 through 1995, David served as a Confidential Assistant to the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency. Mr. Grahn is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School and Carleton College.

We are grateful for David's willingness to come to Arkansas to deliver this critical information. In order to avoid any conflict of interest or funding issues, David volunteers his time to the Program. His course represents a unique and very valuable opportunity for our candidates, and we are very grateful for his participation.